Welsh Rugby
Owen: Henson recall 'embarrassing'
ESPNscrum Staff
May 10, 2011
Toulon centre Gavin Henson, Toulon v Toulouse, Top 14, Stade Velodrome, Marseillle, France, April 16, 2011
Gavin Henson has been recalled to the Wales squad © PA Photos

Former Wales captain Michael Owen has questioned the decision to award an international recall to Gavin Henson.

The 29-year-old has been named in the Wales squad for their June 4 clash with the Barbarians despite his recent disciplinary issues at French club Toulon and a lack of playing time.

Henson has his sights set on the Rugby World Cup but Owen, who skippered the centre in Wales' 2005 Grand Slam, has deemed the decision to turn to him ahead of other players as 'embarrassing' to Welsh rugby.

"It's a privilege to play for your national team. I think you've really got to earn that privilege and I just question whether Gavin has earned it in this instance," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "Warren Gatland and the coaches at Wales obviously rate Gavin very highly as a player. He's done some fantastic things throughout his career.

"But for me it sends the wrong message to the players in Wales who are striving, day in day out, week in week out, to try and get better and try and perform to get the opportunity to play for their country.

"For people looking in on Welsh rugby I think it's slightly embarrassing because we're fawning over a player who, at the moment, doesn't merit that sort of treatment."

Gatland, who overlooked Wasps No.8 Andy Powell for his latest squad, intends to have a 'zero tolerance' policy to keep the squad on the straight and narrow.

"For us, basically it is zero tolerance. You have to look at every situation. If someone is out at three in the morning and there is an incident, we will take a serious view on it," he said.

"We do have a code of conduct, and the discipline within the squad during recent campaigns has been excellent. But we need to widen that and remind players in this modern world of cameras, phones, texting, Facebook and Twitter. The unfortunate thing is they are very much in the public eye."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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