Wednesday 22 November 2017

Henson's World Cup dream all but over

WALES centre Gavin Henson may never play in a Rugby World Cup after having surgery on a dislocated bone in his right wrist suffered during Saturday's World Cup warm-up victory over England.

Wales coach Warren Gatland names a 30-man World Cup squad next Monday.

If, as seems certain, he is not selected, then Henson could only feature in the tournament by replacing an injured player.

Henson was overlooked by then Wales boss Steve Hansen for the 2003 World Cup, and then failed to recover in time from injuries four years later. When the 2015 competition comes around, he will be 33.

"He has been given a return-to-play time of six to eight weeks which, while ruling him out of selection for the initial World Cup squad, could see him available to the coaches while we are still in the pool stages of the tournament," said Prav Mathema, the Welsh Rugby Union's national medical performance manager.

England manager Martin Johnson could barely hide his frustration after seeing his side fail to capitalise on their dominance in a 19-9 defeat at the Millennium Stadium.

They failed to make the most of an impressive pack performance as they went in level at half-time 6-6, Toby Flood and Rhys Priestland kicking two penalties apiece.

A try, conversion and two penalties from James Hook in the second half gave Gatland's side a morale-boosting win following last weekend's 23-19 defeat at Twickenham.

"I am disappointed," Johnson said. "It was the strangest game I have seen, I think, to dominate a game so much in the first half and to go in at 6-6 and let it get away from us like we did in the second half is disappointing.

"It is where it is in the scheme of things but it was pretty frustrating to say the least. You come in and work for big Test matches and you should not let games like that go.

"Both sides made errors, it's that time of year, but it's annoying. I've not lost sight of the bigger picture but it does not help your emotions straight after the game."

Irish Independent

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