Barbarians Rugby
Rugby 'losing out' on Henson - Burton
ESPNscrum Staff
September 29, 2010

Mike Burton hopes that Gavin Henson's proposed Barbarians appearance could be the precursor to a full-time return to rugby.

The former England prop, the Barbarians' contract manager, believes that the sport is missing the Welsh centre and that a possible return is 'good news for everyone'.

Henson has accepted an invite to wear the black and white of the Barbarians against South Africa at Twickenham on December 4 - pending confirmation due to his commitments with BBC reality TV show Strictly Come Dancing.

"It's good news for everyone," Burton said. "We don't consider this a coup for the Barbarians. We tend to look at a wide range of players to invite to come and join us.

"But we feel that Gavin is a great talent who is not currently being utilised and we felt the game was losing out. He was delighted to accept and we then had to go through getting the required permissions."

Henson has not played a competitive game in 18 months after a series of injuries brought about a period of unpaid leave and while reports suggest that he is desperate for a move away from the Ospreys, his long-time club gave their blessing for Burton's approach.

"I had a tentative talk with [Ospreys chief executive] Mike Cuddy and he advised us to have a chat with Gavin and get back to them," Burton said. "They were quite laid back about it, just to see how it would work. As I said Gavin was very happy to get the invite.

"In my personal opinion this could be the thing that kicks the bolt off the door in terms of him playing regularly again. It will be a great experience for him to get a chance to share a room with some of the Australians or New Zealanders in our party, as previously he will only have played against them.

"January is the deadline to the Ospreys to register players for the second half of the Heineken Cup and it is in everyone's interest to get Gavin back playing."

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