Henson joins big-spending Toulon

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Wales centre Gavin Henson is latest star to join Toulon after signing a short-term deal with the French club.

Henson has joined from English side Saracens as an injury replacement for utility back Clement Marienval.

The Welsh international told the BBC he signed a five-month deal that will take him until the end of the France's Top 14 season.

"It was just a massive opportunity for me. I couldn't really pass up on (it)," Henson said.

"I think it's going to be great for me and I can't wait to start on Monday with them."

England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, Argentina flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and former New Zealand prop Carl Hayman already play for Toulon, which has attracted some of the biggest names in world rugby to the French Riviera in recent years.

The big-spending club was bankrolled by owner Mourad Boudjellal, who has made his fortune in the comic book business.

The 29-year-old Henson returned to Rugby only in December after a 21-month self-imposed break, and played just four matches for Saracens - starting just once - before asking to leave the London side.

He was previously at the Ospreys, a Welsh provincial side.

A career that hit the heights in 2005 has been ravaged by injury over the past three years, leading to him going on unpaid, indefinite leave in March 2009.

His comeback at Saracens was brief and uneventful, although he was called up into Wales' enlarged 40-man, pre-Six Nations training camp for conditioning training.

However, a calf injury ended his hopes of playing for the Welsh in their opening match against England, and his overall lack of match sharpness means he is unlikely to feature at all in the competition.

He will act as cover at Toulon for Wilkinson, who will be involved in the Six Nations with England, and Argentina captain Felipe Contepomi, who has struggled with injury.

Toulon, who will reassess Henson's contract at the end of the season, is seventh in Top 14 and has qualified for the European Cup quarterfinals.

Wales internationals Lee Byrne and James Hook recently secured moves to French clubs for next season.