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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Wales centre on Henson
Gavin Henson
Wales coach Mike Ruddock insists that Ospreys fly-half Gavin Henson should play inside centre for his country.

The multi-talented 22-year-old has excelled at No 10 and full-back as the Ospreys have surged top of the league.

But Ruddock sees Henson as the long-term successor to Iestyn Harris and has asked the Ospreys to support the move.

"We've spoken to (Ospreys coaches) Lyn Jones and Sean Holley and there's a lot of empathy with playing him at 12, so let's see what happens," said Ruddock.

"At inside centre we can get his passing and kicking game involved in the action, and he's also big and strong enough to take the ball up and make some big, offensive tackles.

There's a chance for me to really put my stamp on the squad
Wales coach Mike Ruddock
"He did very well in the role in my first game in charge against the Barbarians.

"Gareth Thomas' injury in that game meant we switched Gavin to full-back during the summer tour, but the original intention was always to play him at centre."

Ruddock was more flexible over the position of Michael Owen, another player whose role has been the source of debate.

"He's been named as a second row, but I see Mike as a back-five forward who gives me options at lock and in the back row," added Ruddock.

The coach said he was looking forward to putting his own mark on the team in the coming year, having inherited former coach Steve Hansen's squad at the end of last season with little time to prepare for the summer games.

"I'm very excited," Ruddock told BBC Sport Wales. "Our top players are playing some great rugby and we have a few youngsters in we feel will make the grade.

"There's a chance to plan and prepare properly for the season ahead and for me to really put my stamp on the squad."




SEE ALSO
Henson reveals Hansen rift
13 Sep 04  |  Welsh
Henson fills Harris hole
21 May 04  |  Internationals


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