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Page last updated at 20:01 GMT, Friday, 7 January 2011

Coach Warren Gatland in Gavin Henson Wales warning

Warren Gatland and Gavin Henson
Warren Gatland last picked Gavin Henson in the 2009 Six Nations

Warren Gatland has warned Gavin Henson he is under "pressure" to perform if the returning centre is to win a recall into Wales' Six Nations squad.

The Wales coach has reminded Saracens' new star he faces competition if he is to get back into a Wales midfield that includes Jamie Roberts and James Hook.

And Gatland wants Henson to play inside centre for Wales not outside centre where he is playing for Sarries.

"There's pressure on Gavin to get out there, perform and play well," he said.

Henson is to battle with Roberts, Hook, Tom Shanklin, Jonathan Davies and Andrew Bishop for the midfield spots in Gatland's Six Nations squad.

The 28-year-old has only figured in two games in the last 21 months since an ankle injury and rugby exile ensured he missed a Lions tour to world champions South Africa.

But the double Grand Slam winner enjoyed his first involvement with the Wales squad for almost two years earlier this week when Henson was called in for a pre-Six Nations Welsh rugby fitness and condition check at their Vale of Glamorgan base.

Henson confidently predicted he needed just two full games to regain his Wales squad place and now he has just two games for his new club to prove his worth before Gatland names his Six Nations squad the week after next.

Henson, who joined English club Saracens from the Ospreys last year, won the last of his 31 Wales caps in their Six Nations clash with Ireland in March 2009.

We'd like to see Gavin playing at number 12 but he has been playing at 13 for Saracens which is unfamiliar for him

Wales coach Warren Gatland

But Gatland has told the rugby superstar what he must do to win a Wales recall as the Kiwi coach prepares for Wales' Six Nations opener with England in Cardiff on 4 February.

"He needs to start and needs to play well in the couple of weeks before we name the squad," Gatland told BBC Sport.

"It was great to see Jonathan Davies back from injury, Tom Shanklin was good in the autumn, Jamie Roberts is back and also James Hook, we have a lot more choice and depth at the moment.

"And Leigh Halfpenny, Shane Williams and Lee Byrne are coming back into contention, so there's pressure on Gavin to get out there, perform and play well. That is the bottom line."

Henson joined Saracens in the hope of playing his favoured fly-half position but due to the form of Owen Farrell, the Welshman has been forced to play at outside centre - while Gatland wants to see Henson at inside centre.

"I asked Gavin to Wales testing because I hadn't spoken to Gavin Henson the whole time he hasn't been playing rugby.

"We didn't fitness test him. But it was a good opportunity to get Gavin down for a chat and see where he was at.

"He needs more games, that is obvious. And for us we'd like to see Gavin playing at number 12 but he has been playing at 13 for Saracens which is unfamiliar for him.

"Whether he will get a chance at 12 at Saracens we don't know."



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see also
Gatland in Wales boost for Peel
07 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Blues turn down Rees ban appeal
13 Jan 11 |  Cardiff Blues
Byrne to boost Ospreys Euro hopes
12 Jan 11 |  Ospreys
Henson links up with Wales squad
04 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Williams recovery boost for Wales
12 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Henson desperate for Wales return
26 Dec 10 |  Saracens
Gavin Henson signs for Saracens
28 Oct 10 |  Showbiz


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