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Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Howley backs Henson over tactics

Gavin Henson
Henson was deeply frustrated by the Stadio Flaminio showdown

Wales assistant coach Robert Howley is glad Gavin Henson showed his frustration at their poor display in the 20-15 over Italy at the weekend.

Henson has admitted a row with skipper Ryan Jones led him to storm off after Wales' victory in Rome.

Howley said: "Gavin's obviously vented his frustrations and we want that as coaches. It's good.

"It's good for the environment and that's how we learn as coaches and as players."

Attack coach Howley added: "It's great to hear and quite refreshing for Gavin to come out and question... the tactical kicking game.

"We certainly felt after 20-25 minutes that we maybe needed to keep the ball in hand a little bit more."

Wales won a penalty with 80 minutes gone and, chasing points for a title challenge, chose to go for a long-range goal rather than ending the game.

Ryan Jones

Row was "no big deal" says Ryan Jones

Henson disagreed strongly and the penalty was handed to Stephen Jones whose effort fell well short.

"I was frustrated. I didn't agree with the decision, that's all," said Henson.

Wales must beat Ireland's Grand Slam-chasing side by more than 13 points at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium if they are to win the Championship and claim the Triple Crown.

"The [Italy] game was won, wasn't it? I would have grabbed the ball and put it straight out," said Henson, who made his first Test match start since last season's title-winning Six Nations campaign.

"I am not sure whose decision it was. I think we are still arguing about that one."

Alun Wyn Jones was captain for the day, but regular skipper Ryan Jones was on as a second-half replacement and Henson could be seen remonstrating with his Ospreys colleague as Stephen Jones lined up the kick.

Ryan Jones has laughed off his difference of opinion with Ospreys colleague Henson:

"Gav had an opinion, I had an opinion, I'm bigger than Gav so we went with my opinion," Jones said, adding he took no part in the kicking decision.


Henson did not reappear on the pitch with his team-mates to applaud the travelling Welsh fans at the end of the Italy match.

"I normally [salute the supporters], I normally go back out," said Henson, who has still never lost a match he has started against a northern hemisphere side.

"I was just a bit annoyed with the way the game went, the way we played and that decision at the end, so I just wanted to go into the changing room and cool down for five [minutes].

"I just sat in the changing room, thinking about the game.

"I wouldn't have thought it was a very good game to watch. It was frustrating to play in, to be honest.

"I probably touched the ball three times, I think Jamie [Roberts] touched it once. God knows how many times the wings touched it.

"Maybe our tactics were wrong. In saying that, we did make a lot of mistakes.

"If we hadn't made so many mistakes, maybe the tactics might have been right. It was just frustrating being out there.

"This team is all about honesty and voicing your opinion, so there were a couple of discussions that went on.

"It was a tough game - we have lost a couple of times here.

"I felt we should have attacked them more. Maybe it might have been a bit of an easier game for us if we had kept the ball a bit more, but that didn't happen.

"We made hard work of it, but the Italians were good, to be fair. It was a close game - I am just glad we won it and it is still all on for next week."

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