Henson adapts to Old Deer Park life in Richmond

Who, me?: London Welsh centre Gavin Henson

Who, me?: London Welsh centre Gavin Henson

First published in Sport Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

Grand Slam winner Gavin Henson has long been the poster boy of Welsh rugby, but his star has faded after a nomadic rugby existence over the past three years.
 

The 30-year-old, who missed the 42-12 LV=Cup defeat to Exeter Chiefs at the weekend,  knows a season of regular top flight rugby could put him back in the international frame with a British & Irish Lions tour a major incentive.
 

And that can only be a good thing for Premiership new boys London Welsh.
Richmond & Twickenham Times sports editor Stuart Amos caught up with the one they call ‘Gav’.

Stuart Amos: London Welsh have made a pretty decent fist of life in the top flight so far, how have things been for you?

Gavin Henson: It is going very well. The opening two games were a bit of a reality check for the boys, but to be fair we have turned things around.  We’ve got that bit of a belief back. Hopefully, the defeat at the weekend was a blip and we can put it right against Glocuester this week.

SA: With yourself, Sonny Parker, Gordon Ross and Tom Voyce in the Welsh backline, that is a backline any team would have been proud of a few years ago.  How important is that sort of experience  for the Exiles this season?

GH: The most pleasing thing is the way our forwards have fronted up, that has meant we are really taking games down to the wire. It is up to us as backs to match that. We have not done that just yet. It has been a learning curve, but hopefully, we are not too far away from coming together.

SA: And your own game?

GH: I’ve been pretty pleased with the my game and I’m working hard. I’m enjoying being back in my favourite position at number 10. Lyn Jones is the only coach to have shown the faith in me to play regularly there and it is up to me to repay that faith.

SA: Do you feel settled and is it nice to get away from the goldfish bowl of south Wales?

GH: Richmond is  a beautiful part of London I’ve never visited before. Now I’ve got used to the planes flying over the top I’m enjoying it. There are a few nice bars, that I’m trying stay out of and I live two minutes from the training ground at Old Deer Park.  Things could not be better at the moment. I have my kids stay over two nights a week and I’m able to get back to Cardiff easily.

SA: What did you make of the Wales defeat to Argentina on Saturday?

GH: Welsh fans have high expectations, when you think of  the success the team has had and the fact rugby is so big in Wales. It wasn’t a great preformance but you don’t become a bad team overnight. It was their first game together this year and because
Argentina have come in off the back of the rugby
Championship then perhaps they took them a little bit by surprise.

SA: London Welsh now play in Oxford, how important is it to engage with the local community?

GH: The target is to become sustainable.  Getting in to schools and clubs is only going to get kids excited about coming to watch us.
 

* Gavin Henson was speaking at the launch of London Welsh’s new community programme in schools and clubs across Oxfordshire.

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