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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 November 2007, 10:38 GMT
Henson still struggling - Bennett
Gavin Henson must wait to see if he stays in the Wales squad
Gavin Henson must wait to see if he stays in the Wales squad
Wales legend Phil Bennett doubts Gavin Henson is ready to return to Test rugby against South Africa on 24 November.

Wales caretaker coach Nigel Davies will trim his 31-man squad to 24 on Monday.

"Gavin's not at the top of the game, he doesn't have the swagger," Bennett said after watching Henson in the Ospreys' Heineken Cup loss at Gloucester.

"Maybe his groin injury is still troubling him... he wasn't kicking the ball from hand and you want him belting it 60 or 70 metres."


The Ospreys led at Kingsholm on Friday night thanks to two tries from Henson's partner in the centre, Sonny Parker.

But Gloucester were allowed back into the game and the English side overtook their visitors to win 26-18.

"I was glued to the game and watched Gavin very closely," Bennett told BBC Radio Wales' Back Page programme.

"He also turned down a long-range goal-kick that was just out of James Hook's distance but well within his.

"Gavin's playing his best rugby for a couple of seasons, but whether it's good enough to get in the Wales team is another thing."

Henson last played for Wales as a replacement in the 31-0 loss in Australia last June, missing out on the later World Cup warm-ups and selection for the tournament itself.

Ospreys were without Shane Williams at Kingsholm and the wing's thigh injury could also rule him out of the clash with the Springboks.

Davies is likely to keep Williams in the squad and give the wing every chance to prove his fitness, but it remains to be seen if Henson will make Monday's cut.

Llanelli Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees is another injury doubt after picking up a hand problem in Saturday's loss to Wasps.

The Springboks match will be Davies' only game in charge before new Wales coach Warren Gatland takes over in December.

After trimming the squad Davies will finalise his team on Tuesday.

Veteran Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Colin Charvis is hotly tipped to start at open-side given his continuing great vein of form.

With Martyn Williams having retired from Test rugby the way is clear for a long-term successor at seven.

That is likely to be Williams' Cardiff Blues team-mate Robin Sowden-Taylor, but the 25-year-old may have to continue his wait while Charvis is in form.

With Kevin Morgan short of match practice due to injury and Gareth Thomas left out, the match is a chance for another player to lay a claim on the Wales 15 jersey.

Lee Byrne and youngster Morgan Stoddart - the only uncapped man in the squad - are vying to start at full-back against South Africa.

In-form Dragons prop Rhys Thomas could claim the tight-head shirt ahead of Adam Jones.

*Phil Bennett was speaking on BBC Radio Wales' The Back Page programme, which has a regular slot on Saturdays, 0830-0900 GMT

Wales training squad:

Backs: Lee Byrne (Ospreys), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets), Mark Jones (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys), Tom James (Blues), Tom Shanklin (Blues), Jamie Robinson (Blues), Gavin Henson (Ospreys), Sonny Parker (Ospreys), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), James Hook (Ospreys), Ceri Sweeney (Dragons), Michael Phillips (Ospreys), Dwayne Peel (Scarlets), Gareth Cooper (Gloucester).

Forwards: Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Alix Popham (Scarlets), Colin Charvis (Dragons), Robin Sowden-Taylor (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Michael Owen (Dragons), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Ian Gough (Ospreys), Rhys Thomas (Dragons), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), T Rhys Thomas (Blues), Gethin Jenkins (Blues, capt), Duncan Jones (Ospreys).

Gloucester 26-18 Ospreys
16 Nov 07 |  Rugby Union
Mighty Boks: South African rugby
07 Nov 07 |  Rugby Union


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