Ruck and Maul: Henson to train with Wales before autumn Tests – and he's ready to rumba

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The Independent Online

Gavin Henson could make a return to the Wales squad as early as November. The head coach, Warren Gatland, is understood to be considering inviting the under-active Osprey, who has not played for 18 months and is reportedly trying to get out of his regional contract to join Wasps, to train with the national team during the autumn Tests.

Henson will not play against South Africa, New Zealand, Australia or Fiji, but Gatland is keen to have his 2008 Grand Slam inside centre involved in time to play in next year's World Cup. The perma-tanned one has been seen in action this year only on reality TV; firstly in a bizarre one-off science programme "Gavin Henson: Human Guinea Pig", in which he took a 750,000-volt electric charge to the head, which might explain a few things. Last night, on not one but two of the main terrestrial channels, he was variously dancing and polar trekking. Wasps said on Friday that they had made no further signings for the 2010-11 season, but the statement left room for future changes, although if Henson's rumba and cha-cha-cha are up to scratch, he could find himself appearing on Strictly Come Dancing until Christmas. None of the previous rugby stars to have taken part – Matt Dawson, Austin Healey, Kenny Logan and Martin Offiah – were still playing at the time they were dancing.



Shane set to wing it like Giggs

It has been a long week in Welsh rugby, even by its soap-opera standards. While Henson appeared on a poster advertising Wales's new kit – a ploy described yesterday by Ospreys coach Scott Johnson as "sadly embarrassing for the [current Wales] players putting their bodies on the line for their country" – Gareth Thomas, the former national captain, was campaigning for the gay World Cup to be staged in, er, England – Manchester to be precise. Thomas's old team, the Cardiff Blues, had their lowest league or cup crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium, 6,542 for the visit of Edinburgh. And a group of 15 other former captains including Ieuan Evans, Rob Howley and Scott Quinnell set off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise £1 million for a cancer charity. On the field, Shane Williams was among the Ospreys' five try scorers in their 32-16 defeat of Treviso in the Magners League on Friday, and he says he is modelling his planned longevity on Ryan Giggs. As a youngster Williams, who is 33 to Giggs's 36, played football for Cwmamman United. "I'd like to think I'm in the same mould as Ryan," said Williams. "I've always been a massive fan of his, when I was growing up he was my hero." Giggs gave up international football at 33; Williams is planning for next year's World Cup to be his Test swansong.

Heroines go back to day jobs

By contrast, a week of coming back down to earth for England's women after their World Cup final defeat by New Zealand. Most of the squad had a few days off before resuming their working lives but the wing Charlotte Barras was back teaching on Monday morning, as was hooker Emma Croker, while Maggie "the Machine" Alphonsi did some punditry on Sky Sports. When the RFUW Premiership starts in October they hope to attract crowds in excess of the usual 50 or so, emboldened by the bumper 13,253 record attendance for a match last Sunday at the Stoop.



hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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