Wednesday 22 November 2017

Henson facing sack after Toulon fight

Henson: suspended for one week. Photo: Getty Images
Henson: suspended for one week. Photo: Getty Images

Chris Hewett

Gavin Henson has been suspended for a week by Toulon, apparently for fighting with at least one team-mate after his side's victory over Toulouse at the weekend.

Some close observers of rugby affairs on the Mediterranean believe he is about to be sacked.

Henson started the game on Saturday, and immediately after the final whistle he could be heard extolling the virtues of rugby life in Toulon.

While most of Mourad Boudjellal's 'trophy' signings -- Jonny Wilkinson and Joe van Niekerk, George Smith and Juan Fernandez Lobbe -- have proved sound investments, few considered the recruitment of Henson to be anything other than risky.

All the same, the fact that he was picked for a game as important as last weekend's suggested things were going swimmingly.

"I must be doing something right if I'm starting for a team like this," he said, after hearing that Wales assistant coach Rob Howley had spoken with considerable enthusiasm about him pushing for a World Cup spot. "That was the biggest club match I've ever played in.

"I'm quite happy with my form, my fitness isn't too bad and I don't want this to end just as it's beginning.

"I need to do a job for Toulon, to put a run of games together. If Rob's saying that, great."

However, the Toulon director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre sounded a note of caution, even before events turned sour.

"He's doing very well," Saint-Andre said. "He's still rusty, but you can see he has class.

"The problem? I believe he will be picked for the World Cup, and as we have nine games to play during that time, it would be very difficult for me to have him away, as well as Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau (the Australian midfielder who will join Toulon as soon as this year's Wallaby business is concluded). I must speak to him and his agent."

Even if Henson's stay in Provence is not already over, he will have precious little opportunity to impress Warren Gatland and Co.

His ban, officially imposed for a breach of the club's code of conduct, denies him a Top 14 shot at Heineken Cup semi-finalists Perpignan this weekend, and with no guarantee of a place in the end-of-season play-offs, Toulon's season could end with a game in Montpellier in 11 days' time. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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