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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Injured Henson out of World Cup
Gavin Henson in training
Henson has been struggling with an Achilles injury
Utility back Gavin Henson has been ruled out of Wales' World Cup squad after failing to recover from injury.

The Osprey has been struggling with an Achilles injury, which has kept him out of training for the last three weeks.

Henson had been expected to be available for Saturday's warm-up match against England at Twickenham.

But at Tuesday's team announcement it was confirmed the 25-year-old has run out of time for World Cup selection, although he will remain on standby.

"I can understand the decision that's been taken," Henson, who has 22 Wales caps, said.

"I know I'm not quite where I would like to be at the moment conditioning-wise.

"All I can do now is train hard, get back to the Ospreys, get my fitness back, get my form back and make myself available if called upon.

Anything can happen in a World Cup and we may still need Gavin yet if we get an injury

Wales coach Gareth Jenkins

"I would have thought that I'd be at full fitness by September, it's just these games have come around too soon for me.

"It's extremely disappointing... I've taken great pride in pulling on the Wales jersey and it would've been particularly special to do so at the World Cup.

"I'm only 25, I believe I'm still young and if I don't feature in this World Cup I hope I can feature in the next."

It is the latest in a string of injury problems to affect Henson since the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005.

Wales head coach Gareth Jenkins had sympathy for Henson, but said he could not afford to select unfit or out of form players in his final 30-man squad.

"We have taken an early decision on Gavin and decided that he is no longer in contention for the Rugby World Cup squad, which must be named before 14 August," Jenkins said.

"We have talked to him today and he is very understanding. It was a tough call but a call that was necessary and one we had to make sooner rather than later for his sake as well as ours.

606: DEBATE

"He is disappointed, but I think he's realised he's been fighting a bit of a losing battle in the last month.

"He's had every opportunity we could have given him, but the recent Achilles injury in particular has meant he's not been able to train at full pelt and that has been reflected in his conditioning.

"He's been unlucky. He's a talent, we know that, but a talent is one thing. Current form and being as fit as everyone else is equally important, but Gav is not having the bounce, he's not having the luck."

Jenkins did offer Henson a small glimmer of hope, saying the Osprey would remain on standby in case the squad is hit by other injuries.

"He's an international standard rugby player, he knows that and this doesn't mean his World Cup is necessarily over either," said Jenkins.

"If his form is good and he's improved on fitness between now and September then he'll have a chance.

"Anything can happen in a World Cup and we may still need him yet if we get an injury."



SEE ALSO
Rugby World Cup 2007 fixtures
11 Jan 07 |  Rugby Union
Centre Hipkiss gets England call
31 Jul 07 |  English


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