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Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Friday, 1 October 2010 11:29 UK

Gavin Henson doubtful for Barbarians match

Gavin Henson last played for Wales in the 2009 Six Nations
Gavin Henson last played for Wales in the 2009 Six Nations

Gavin Henson's return to international rugby in December hinges on his involvement in a television show.

The 28-year-old Wales and British and Irish Lions centre was reported to have agreed to play for the Barbarians against South Africa on 4 December.

But Henson's Twickenham appearance is provisional on whether he is still part of the Strictly Come Dancing show.

"I haven't committed to the Barbarians, I think they've just used my name for a bit of publicity," Henson told the BBC.

"I'll just look at that, I'll just see where I am in Strictly. At the moment I'm just totally concentrating on Strictly, this is the main thing for me at the moment then all that will follow on rugby-wise.

"I'm committed to Strictly and that's it really, I haven't committed to the Barbarians.

"It's probably something I would like to do in future, but I can understand why they've decided to use my name to try to sell tickets because at the moment I'm in the public eye a lot.

"It's a little bit naughty of them but that's just the day and age, and that's what seems to be happening around me at the moment.

"As soon as my commitments are finished here [on Strictly] - I'm contracted to this now until the middle of December anyway - as soon as that is all done rugby then is my focus.

"That's who I am, that's what I want to get back to, so much more I want to achieve and I'm really excited about that. I'm really excited about how I'm going to play the game as well.

Henson has not played since March 2009 and last week the Barbarians announced that he would play for them against the Springboks, with contracts manager Mike Burton saying: "Obviously our invitation to Gavin will attract a lot of attention.

Strictly Gavin: A Scrum V Special

"He has other commitments outside rugby and he is conscious of the need for match fitness in order to do himself and the club justice.

"We will be in regular contact with him and his home club, the Ospreys, in the next few weeks and, all being well, our big game at Twickenham will be the first opportunity to see him back on the representative stage."

But Barbarians registrar Alan Evans clarified that the expectation of Henson playing for them was always dependant on the player's extra-rugby activities.

"We are going to monitor the situation closely," said Evans. "One of two things could happen - Gavin could turn out to be another Matt Dawson [the ex-England and Lions scrum-half who was runner-up on Strictly 2006] and he'll still be dancing on December 4th, or another Joe Calzaghe [the Welsh former world champion boxer who was voted out mid-October last year].

"If he's [Henson] out of it fairly early on, we think the situation with his rugby career will take a new turn and we would like to bring him on board and train him with our top-notch squad."

Wales and Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has accepted an invitation and could line up with Ospreys team-mate Henson.

Australia captain Rocky Elsom and fly-half Matt Giteau, plus New Zealand lock Chris Jack have also confirmed their intention to play for the Barbarians.

The Barbarians' squad will be coached by Italy coach and former Springboks coach Nick Mallett, assisted by Alan Solomons, while other players will be announced next month.

Henson has recently confirmed to BBC Wales' Scrum V that he wants to return to rugby, although he has also admitted he would prefer that it was not with the Ospreys - the Welsh region he has been on unpaid leave from for 18 months and is contracted to until the end of the season.

The player, who has won 31 Wales caps, wants a move to a London club to live nearer to his two young children, following his split from their mother Charlotte Church.

But Aviva Premiership sides Harlequins, London Wasps and Saracens have ruled out making a move for Henson, while London Irish have also distanced themselves.

However, English Championship side London Welsh have offered themselves as a possible "first step" back into rugby for Henson.



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see also
London Welsh extend Henson offer
24 Sep 10 |  Welsh
Wales depth at 15 concerns Davies
27 Sep 10 |  Welsh
London Irish cool Henson interest
19 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
Ospreys are open to Henson bids
17 Sep 10 |  Welsh
'Raw' Henson targets London move
16 Sep 10 |  Welsh
Exiles scale back Ospreys link-up
05 May 10 |  Welsh
Johnson takes tough Henson stance
13 Sep 10 |  Welsh
Henson told 'honour Ospreys deal'
11 Sep 10 |  Welsh
Church admits break-up was 'hard'
17 Sep 10 |  Wales
History of the Barbarians
05 Dec 07 |  Welsh
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh
Gavin Henson's value to Wales
23 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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