Henson in Wales squad to play Barbarians

by Staff Writer

Controversial centre Gavin Henson was included in the 26-man Wales squad announced by coach Warren Gatland on Monday to play the Barbarians at the Millennium Stadium next month.

Talented midfielder Henson, who last played for Wales two years ago, was suspended last month by French side Toulon after following a nightclub incident where he was reported to have launched an alcohol-fuelled diatribe against club colleague and England great Jonny Wilkinson.

However, he has since been reinstated and appeared as a substitute during Toulon's French Top 14 defeat by Montpellier last weekend.

Henson last played for Wales during the 2009 Six Nations before personal problems and a raft of injuries combined to see him take unpaid leave from his then-club, the Ospreys.

After appearing in two reality television shows, Henson signed with Saracens to end an 18-month period out of the game but made only four appearances and just one start in four months with the north London side before joining Toulon.

There was no place in the latest Wales squad for No.8 Andy Powell who left English Premiership side Wasps by mutual consent last week following a suspension for his part in a London pub brawl.

The squad includes five uncapped players, with Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton named captain in the absence of rested regular skipper and Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees.

Veteran five-eighth Stephen Jones is set to win his 100th cap, with Wales having designated the June 4 match in Cardiff against the Barbarians, arguably rugby union's most famous invitational side, a full international.

The fixture will form part of Welsh preparations for a World Cup in Gatland's native New Zealand which gets underway in September and the coach said: "It's a great opportunity for us to look at some players that have been hitting their form over the last few weeks.

"Sam Warburton takes over the captaincy mantle from Matthew Rees, who is rested."

Wales squad to play the Barbarians

Backs: Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets), George North (Scarlets), Aled Brew (Newport Gwent Dragons), Shane Williams (Ospreys), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Scarlets), Gavin Henson (Toulon/FRA), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Ospreys), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets)

Forwards: Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), Dan Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), Lou Reed (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Lloyd Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Cardiff), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), John Yapp (Cardiff), Paul James (Ospreys)

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