Top 14 Orange
Henson shown door by Toulon
ESPNscrum Staff
May 24, 2011
Toulon centre Gavin Henson, Toulon v Toulouse, Top 14, Stade Velodrome, Marseillle, France, April 16, 2011
Gavin Henson's short Toulon career appears to be over © PA Photos

Gavin Henson will not be offered a new contract with Toulon next season.

The 29-year-old joined the Top 14 club in February and recently served a one-week suspension for a nightclub brawl with team-mates, although team manager Tom Whitford has confirmed that financial constraints and a possible call-up to the Wales squad for the Rugby World Cup are behind the decision.

"The problem is we haven't qualified for Europe this season, which means that our budget is going to be restricted which means then we're slightly limited in our salary budget - that's one reason," Whitford told BBC Sport Wales

"The second reason is we hope from his point of view he's going to be picked for the World Cup to play for Wales, which means we're going to lose a player for a three-four month period. So we'd rather not take that risk.

"Obviously there was an incident - and he wasn't the only one at fault - let's be honest about this - it wasn't just his fault. Having taken everything into account we've come to a decision whereby we're going to release Gavin and we're going to wish him very well in the future."

Henson's deal covered an initial five months to deputise for the injured Clement Marienval, with the former Ospreys midfielder hoping to convince head coach Philippe Saint-Andre to give him a new two-year deal as well as revive his Wales career.

Henson last played for his country in the 2009 Six Nations before a combination of personal problems and injuries prompted him to take unpaid leave from the Ospreys. After some reality television appearances, he signed with Saracens to end an 18-month period out of the game but made only four appearances and just one start in four months at the club.

He was initially hampered by a hamstring injury on his arrival in France, but made a try-scoring debut against Stade Francais and a second start in another victory over Toulouse. The decision not to keep Henson follows hot on the heels of the high-profile signing of former rugby league star Willie Mason, who is expected to play at centre.

Mason has been named in the Barbarians squad to face England this weekend and is keen to dip his toes into the 15-man-code at the earliest opportunity.

"I am just so excited to be playing rugby and I'm looking forward to the challenge," he said. "I've certainly jumped in the deep end in agreeing to play for the Barbarians without having any rugby experience. If you ask all the boys, I've always told them I've wanted to have a crack at rugby [union], and I'm ready to try the best I can to make an instant switch."

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