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Henson handed start as Gatland offers him chance of redemption

| 11.08.2011

Gavin Henson will make a dramatic return to the Wales team for their World Cup warm-up match with England on Saturday.

Henson appeared in a Welsh shirt for Wales’ clash with the Barbarians at the start of June and Wales coach Warren Gatland is prepared to hand the centre a chance of playing his way in to the World Cup squad.

Jamie Roberts will line-up alongside Gavin Henson at outside centre and Gatland will be looking to his centre pairing to take the game to England who have Mike Tindall and Shontayne Hape lining up in midfield.

Henson is one of four changes from the team that played England at Twickenham made by Gatland with James Hook coming in at full-back, Lloyd Burns handed a start at hooker and Luke Charteris comes in for Bradley Davies in the second row.

Adam Jones and Lee Byrne were hopeful of being fit for Saturday’s encounter at the Millennium Stadium but remain sidelined with injury although they should be fit for the match with Argentina next week.

While all eyes will be on Henson and Hook in the back line, Burns is handed his first start at hooker following two subsititute appearances and will be hoping to impress in an area Wales are short of solid support.

Charteris will be given his opportunity but it’s safe to assume Davies and Alan Wyn-Jones are Gatland’s first choice picks in the second row as the Wales coach continues to assess his strongest sides.

The front row remains a weak area for Wales and there’s no doubt it will be tested by England on Saturday, but Burns has a real chance to lead Paul James and Craig Mitchell in front of a home crowd.

Without a solid base that the front row provides, Wales will struggle to turn around the four point deficit from last weekend’s encounter so all eyes are on Burns to see how he copes on Saturday.



Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.