News in Brief
Gatland expects Henson to return
May 2, 2010
The Ospreys' Gavin Henson receives treatment after suffering an injury, Gloucester v Ospreys, Anglo-Welsh Cup Semi-Final, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England, March 28, 2009
Wales and Ospreys centre Gavin Henson will reportedly resume his playing career next season © Getty Images

  • Wales boss Warren Gatland is in "no doubt" that Ospreys centre Gavin Henson will return to rugby next season.

    Henson has not played since injuring his ankle in his region's Anglo-Welsh Cup defeat by Gloucester in March of last year and there has been speculation that the injury-plagued 28-year-old might call time on his career.

    However, Ospreys managing director Mike Ruddy claimed last week that the player had told him that he would make his eagerly-awaited return next season, a revelation which has not come as a surprise to Gatland.

    "I think he will be playing again," the New Zealand is quoted as saying by Wales on Sunday. "There is no doubt about that. I heard Mike Cuddy had said he was ready to come back next season, and that's good. But he hasn't really been involved with Scott Johnson and what has been happening at the Ospreys.

    "He has been out for a year and it's like having a long-term injury. I think his body would have recuperated and that would mean he is probably injury free. And he has always kept himself in pretty good shape because he always trains anyway. But he has probably dropped a bit of weight. However, it would be good to have a quality player like that back to give us another option."

  • Wallabies high-performance manager David Nucifora has denied suggestions that the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has embraced a policy of trying to persuade rugby league stars to switch codes with lucrative contract offers.

    According to reports, Brisbane Broncos ace Israel Folau and Billy Slater of the Melbourne Storm, who are currently at the centre of a salary cap scandal, have both been offered 'top-ups' in excess of $700,000 to make the move to union ahead of next year's World Cup.

    ''There is no player, I can guarantee, who is (being offered) that kind of money from the ARU,'' Nucifora told the Sun-Herald. ''We're not actively pursuing any rugby league players, including Billy Slater or any of the other Melbourne Storm players - or any other league players. It's not on our agenda to be doing that and again it's really just unfounded speculation that's been fuelled by what has gone on down in Melbourne with the Storm. It's certainly not our plan to offer ARU top-ups to any Melbourne Storm players.''

    Nucifora, though, admitted that they are fully supportive of the newly-formed Melbourne Rebels' pursuit of Folau, who lined out for the Storm before joining the Broncos last year.

    "We understand their reasons as to why they want Israel Folau to play for them: his (prominence) down there (in Melbourne). That makes sense. He'd be a good figurehead to get rugby up and running … given his association with the Melbourne Storm and it all makes sense. So it'll be good for them if they do manage to get him," he said.

    ''And if it pays dividends nationally down the track, well that's great, too. But we'll have to wait and see; he's the one that has to make the decision.''

    Stade Francais wing Mark Gasnier is also being linked with the Rebels but Nucifora is not too confident that the former league star will return home.

    ''If Mark decides he wants to come back to Australia, play rugby and try his hand at Super rugby and see if he's good enough to be a Wallaby, then he'll come here and it won't be an issue of money," he said. "But with any of these things, usually the longer it goes on the less likely it is of happening.''

  • Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn will return home after suffering an ankle sprain during the 42-14 loss to the Stormers on Saturday but the injury is not considered serious.

    Flynn was replaced early in the match at Cape Town and there were fears the injury-plagued All Blacks hooker had suffered a recurrence of the cracked bone that had seen him sidelined since March 12. While he has injured the same left ankle, a team spokesman said it was a straight sprain and the seven-test rake should be fit to play again in 2-3 weeks.

    Flynn will miss the team's crucial match against the Bulls in Pretoria this weekend, with his starting spot going to Ti'i Paulo. Daniel Perrin flew out today to provide backup.

  • Hurricanes centre Conrad Smith will undergo a midweek assessment after taking multiple blows to the head during yesterday's 33-27 defeat of the Chiefs in Wellington.

    Smith left the game in a groggy state with 15 minutes remaining but a team spokesman said it was too early to diagnose the condition of the All Blacks No 13.

  • Western Force fullback Cameron Shepherd could be back in the frame for selection next weekend after scans revealed only a minor quad strain.

    Shepherd missed the club's opening tour win against the Lions in Johannesburg as a precaution after he felt pain in the area that kept him sidelined earlier this season. Not wanting to risk a recurrence club medical staff took a cautious approach and are working to have him available for the final two tour matches.

    "It was great to get some positive news from the scan," Shepherd said. "The type of injury that I had earlier this season is one that can flare up and we just wanted to be safe rather than sorry. I'm really pleased with how it is feeling now. I had been feeling good over the past month and enjoying my football. I'm looking forward to getting back amongst it this weekend."


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