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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 16:34 GMT
Henson lauds 'quality' O'Driscoll
Gavin Henson says he has been welcomed back by Wales
Gavin Henson says he has been welcomed back by Wales
Gavin Henson has offered an olive branch to rival Brian O'Driscoll ahead of Wales' RBS Six Nations trip to face Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

The Wales centre, who starts on the bench on Sunday, accused O'Driscoll of gouging him during last year's match.

That was just one revelation in the controversial autobiography by Henson, which also criticised Wales team-mates.

"Brian is a quality player and I was lucky enough to play with him over on the Lions tour," Henson told the BBC.

"Any argument between us has been built up to something that it's not in the papers.

"He was our captain and he's a world-class player, and I've been telling the other boys in the team what he was like and how good he was.

Gareth (Thomas) is a big loss as a person, a player and particularly as a leader
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll

"But it's been great to meet up with the boys again, no-one has changed, it's been brilliant and they've accepted me back in like normal - like any other player."

Henson has only one Celtic League match under his belt since returning from a seven-week ban and so must be content with a place among the replacements.

Caretaker Wales coach Scott Johnson has opted to stick with the centre pairing of Matthew Watkins and Hal Luscombe that performed well in their previous match, a 28-18 win over Scotland.

Henson's information may help them prepare better to stop O'Driscoll and midfield partner Gordon D'Arcy.

But if Ireland gain the upper hand, then Henson can expect to take the field and see if O'Driscoll has also caught the spirit of forgiveness.

The Ireland captain gave little away before the match, keeping his comments on Henson strictly neutral and preferring to praise Wales' missing links of Mike Ruddock and Gareth Thomas.

"I haven't really thought about it, I've only just heard he (Henson) is on the bench," O'Driscoll said.

"If he did appear on the field you'd treat him exactly the same as you would any other Welsh player - I'd want to beat him every time and hit him hard in the tackle."

Ruddock, last season's Grand Slam-winning Wales coach who surprisingly left the job last week, was O'Driscoll's boss with Leinster and Ireland A in his formative years.

"Everyone wishes Mike well whatever he does afterwards, but it's not really for me to speculate what really happened, whether it was the players or the (Welsh Rugby) Union isn't for me to say," O'Driscoll added.

O'Driscoll also formed a friendship on the Lions tour with Thomas, who will miss the rest of the Six Nations after being diagnosed with a damaged artery in his neck.

"Gareth is a big loss as a person, a player and particularly as a leader," O'Driscoll said.

"Over the last couple of years he's been instrumental to the style Wales have played and their never-say-die attitude.

"It's disappointing we're not going to get the opportunity to play against one of the best players in world rugby these days.

"And certainly I would have enjoyed socialising with him afterwards, because having had the opportunity to get to know him in the summer he's a really good lad and we all wish him well."




SEE ALSO
O'Driscoll to relish Henson duel
23 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Wales nothing to prove - Johnson
23 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Byrne in as Wales call up Henson
21 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Trimble in as Ireland drop Bowe
22 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Thomas ruled out for Six Nations
21 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
O'Driscoll 'gouge' stunned Henson
16 Oct 05 |  Six Nations


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