Holley fears for Henson's future
Published 13/01/2010 | 05:00
Ospreys coach Sean Holley says Welsh centre Gavin Henson may never return to top form, amid claims he has lost a significant amount of weight during his absence.
Henson injured his foot last April and has opted for unpaid leave since then.
Ospreys backer Mike Cuddy hopes to hold talks with Henson next month over the player's future, but Holley has warned: "He would be able to get his weight back on and his fitness up to scratch, but after that, who knows?"
Holley cited the example of ex-Neath, Llanelli and Ospreys centre Leigh Davies, who took a year out to recover fitness, only to struggle to regain form on his return.
"I remember when we signed Leigh Davies in 2005 he had taken a year out of the game," the Ospreys coach recalled.
"And while he was able to get his fitness and conditioning back to where they were, he struggled to get to grips with the way rugby had moved on even in the relatively short time he had been out and it did not work for him.
"I am not saying that would be the case with Gavin... in terms of natural talent he is as good as anyone, but he will almost be starting from scratch again."
However, Holley acknowledged that should Henson return to form and fitness, he would present a compelling case for inclusion in any top-flight squad. "Gavin, as I've said right throughout his career, is a quality player," said Holley.
"He knows and you (the media) know we admire him as a quality player and if he's back up to full speed mentally and physically, any team would welcome him back to their squad."
A report in an English newspaper claims 6ft Henson has dropped to around 11st from 14st 7lb. However, Cuddy says much of what has been said about the player during his absence has been "nonsense".
Cuddy said: "We will sit down in early February to discuss Gavin's future.
"A lot of things have been said about Gavin and most of them are nonsense. We will have a chat and see what comes of it."
Henson starred in Wales' 2005 and 2008 Grand Slams, but his career in between and since has been blighted by injuries, leading to to poor form and public criticism.
Having been omitted from Wales' 2003 and 2007 World Cup squads, Henson also missed the summer's British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa after being injured against Gloucester in March.