Welsh Rugby
Henson: I chose Wales over Toulon
ESPNscrum Staff
May 25, 2011
Toulon centre Gavin Henson, Toulon v Toulouse, Top 14, Stade Velodrome, Marseillle, France, April 16, 2011
Gavin Henson is set to make his Wales return next weekend © PA Photos
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Players/Officials: Gavin Henson
Tournaments/Tours: Top 14 Orange
Teams: Toulon | Wales

Gavin Henson has cast further light on his departure from Toulon, insisting that he turned down a deal with the Top 14 heavyweights as it would have jeopardised his chances of playing for Wales.

The 29-year-old was released by Toulon on Tuesday, with team manager Tom Whitford citing financial reasons - off the back of their failure to qualify for the Heineken Cup - as well as the possibility of a long absence at the start of next season should he secure a recall for the Rugby World Cup.

Despite disciplinary trouble during his five-month stay in France, where he was involved in a drunken altercation with team-mates, Henson completed phase one of his plan to regain his Wales place by winning selection for next weekend's Millennium Stadium meeting with the Barbarians.

"Playing for Wales and in particular featuring in a Rugby World Cup... is my number one priority," Henson said in a statement.

"I am disappointed that we weren't able to reach an agreement to enable me to play next season and beyond at Toulon, but for me the opportunity to try and prove myself for Wales is far too great to turn down.

"It is true that we had discussions with Toulon and were offered an extended deal at the end of this season for me to remain a Toulon player. However during their meeting it became apparent that Toulon has an issue with me playing for Wales, basically giving me an ultimatum that I play only for Toulon, something I felt unable to commit to."

Meanwhile, the Dragons have secured the signatures of young halfback duo James Leadbeater and Steffan Jones on one and two-year deals respectively.

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