July 11, 2012
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Henson signs for London Welsh

Controversial Wales centre Gavin Henson has signed for English Premiership newcomers London Welsh, the club said on Monday.

The 30-year-old has been without a club since April after being sacked by Cardiff Blues over his drunken behaviour on a flight returning from a game in Glasgow.

Henson though worked with Exiles coach Lyn Jones while making his name as a player at Welsh regional side the Ospreys, and Jones believes the right environment can bring out the best in the wayward star.

"Gavin has a great talent but over the past three or four seasons he has not realised his full potential for a number of reasons that are well documented," Jones said.

"I sincerely hope and believe he can now draw a line under that period and move forward again with London Welsh."

Despite playing an integral part in Wales' 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam campaigns, and touring New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions in 2005, Henson has yet to deliver consistently.

Jones, with whom Henson won two Celtic League titles and an Anglo-Welsh Cup between 2003 and 2008, said: "What's important for Gavin is that he concentrates 100% on his game and learning how to become the best he can possibly be again. I think he can add a great deal to our game and we can also do a lot for him.

"We all appreciate the skills that he can bring to a game but what team-mates and coaches will be looking for is consistency of that ability.

"That's the challenge for Gavin, to hold his concentration fully on rugby as he did when he started his career, when rugby was first, second and third on his list of priorities."

The Blues were Henson's fourth club in little over a year after being released by the Ospreys in 2010 and having short stints at Saracens and Toulon.

His spell in France had also been marred by an alcohol-related incident, with Toulon suspending him for a week after a nightclub altercation with two team-mates.

London Welsh have yet to announce the length of Henson's contract.

But managing director John Taylor made it clear he felt Henson, who has scored 133 points in 33 Tests for Wales, the last against England in Cardiff in August last year, was worth another chance.

"We are obviously delighted to have been able to sign a player of Gavin's pedigree," said Taylor, himself a former Wales and Lions flanker.

"He is the first to admit things have gone a little haywire over the last few years but he has impressed on me that he still feels he has a lot to prove as a rugby player and is determined to ensure he is not remembered as somebody who never fulfilled his great potential.

"I am confident he will fit in well here and it is obvious he cannot wait to get back to what he does best -- playing rugby," added Taylor, a star of the celebrated London Welsh team of the 1970s.

AFP

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