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Gavin Henson wants Toulon inspiration for Wales

Gavin Henson
Henson has made 31 Wales caps since his debut in 2003 against Japan

Gavin Henson expects a Welsh recall when the Wales centre starts playing regularly for French giants Toulon.

Wales' backline failed to fire in their opening Six Nations defeat to England in Cardiff as Warren Gatland's men extended their winless run to eight.

The 29-year-old feels his Wales return after a two-year rugby sabbatical could help transform the national side.

"If I'm playing regularly for Toulon, then I have no doubt Wales will be calling then," Henson insists.

The Welsh double Grand Slam winner is set to make his debut for Heineken Cup quarter-finalists Toulon on Saturday following his move from English club Saracens.

He is expected to line-up against rivals Brive in the French Top 14 League on Saturday at the Mayol Stadium.

Henson, who won the last of his 31 Wales caps against Ireland in March 2009, wants to be considered for Welsh selection in a competitive-looking midfield that includes Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies and James Hook plus experienced injured duo Andrew Bishop and Tom Shanklin.

Roberts was accused of having a "quiet game" by coach Gatland in Wales' opening 26-19 defeat by England on Friday as their backs failed to spark inside the Millennium Stadium.

I hope I'm going to be here for a long time. Toulon are one of the biggest clubs in Europe - it is an awesome club and it is in a great part of the world

Toulon centre Gavin Henson

Henson has spoken of his desire to represent his country in this autumn's Rugby World Cup and hopes to impress at Toulon and force his way into Gatland's plans.

The Toulon new boy has made just one start in almost two years since suffering an ankle injury playing for the Ospreys in an EDF Energy Cup defeat to Gloucester in March 2009 before going on a rugby sabbatical.

Henson was been largely used as an outside centre during his four appearances for Sarries and is looking forward to revert to his favoured inside centre or fly-half positions for Philippe Saint-Andre's Toulon.

"I'm convinced that Gavin Henson is a huge player and will play the World Cup with Wales," said Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal.

"Gavin's come to Toulon to bid for his selection for the Wales team. We hope he'll be able to get going against Brive."

Henson has signed a five-month deal as medical cover for the three-times French champions after being released from his Saracens contract - but admits he could stay in France after the Rugby World Cup.

Gavin Henson and Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal
Gavin Henson agrees his Toulon deal with president Mourad Boudjellal

"The money isn't why I've come here, it's just the carrot of regular rugby and playing outside Jonny Wilkinson," said Henson.

"And in a beautiful place, hopefully that's going to be an amazing combination.

"I hope I'm going to be here for a long time. Toulon are one of the biggest clubs in Europe - it is an awesome club and it is in a great part of the world.

"I really want to play in the French League - It's the toughest league in world rugby - and after speaking with Philippe he was enthusiastic about me playing at number 12 and playing regularly - and that's what I want.

"I just want play regular rugby and enjoy my rugby again."

Boudjellal hopes Henson's arrival will spearhead Toulon towards the knockout stages of the French Championship.

"In the top 14 there's a weakness in terms of number 10 and kicker because of the players no longer available to the club [Wilkinson and the injured Felipe Contepomi]," said Boudjellal.

"Gavin's here for the rest of the season as a wildcard, for the nine matches of the regular league season, and I hope more - and we'll see after that."

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see also
Wing Stoddart passes fitness test
11 Feb 11 |  Welsh
Toulon expect big Henson effort
05 Feb 11 |  Welsh
Wales 19-26 England
04 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Toulon ready for Henson release
03 Feb 11 |  Welsh
Henson completes switch to Toulon
03 Feb 11 |  Saracens
Henson suffers Six Nations blow
17 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Gatland in Henson Wales warning
07 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Henson links up with Wales squad
04 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Henson desperate for Wales return
26 Dec 10 |  Saracens

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