Welsh Rugby
Warburton defends Blues over Henson
ESPNscrum Staff
April 3, 2012
Cardiff's Sam Warburton burrows into London Irish tackles, London Irish v Cardiff Blues, Heineken Cup, Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, January 14, 2012
Sam Warburton on the charge for the Blues © Getty Images

Sam Warburton has spoken out about his disappointment at seeing Gavin Henson depart from the Blues but has emphasised that the incident shows rugby players of the price they will pay if they step out of line.

Henson was sacked by the Blues on Monday after another off-field incident with his apology seemingly not enough to save his career in Cardiff. With his future now uncertain, Wales skipper Warburton has spoken of the player's quality while also highlighting the need to promote a good off-field profile while turning in performances on the field.

"Players may laugh when someone calls them a role model, but that is what they are," Warburton told Wales Online. "Because most players are grounded, and don't get ahead of themselves, some still think that they can behave as their friends might down the local pub.

"But you can't. I don't think it's a case of players being arrogant when they misbehave, it's more a case that they actually forget that they are under the microscope. The small sacrifices like behaving yourself on a night out, or wherever you may be, is really a very small sacrifice.

"For me, winning a Grand Slam, something hardly anyone will experience, is priceless compared to having to sacrifice a bit of alcohol once in a blue moon. So I just think, why bother? Gavin has now left the Blues, and the Blues could still potentially win the Heineken Cup.

"It might not be a massive chance, but it is a chance all the same - and now he could miss out on that because of misbehaviour. You have to take a step back and realise what opportunities you have as a rugby player and not let them slip from your grasp because of stepping out of line."

But while Warburton is in agreement with the Blues over their decision to oust Henson, he has also lauded the player's qualities. Warburton said: "I am only 23, and still inexperienced, but when he has the ball he is just such a classy player, an incredible talent. So it is disappointing to see him go, and I'm not sure what will happen with him now.

"He seemed to be just getting things back on track. He had settled in really well at the Blues, he got on well with everyone and all the players liked him. That was never an issue. But you can't blame the Blues because they have warned us before that any misbehaviour and there would be serious consequences.

Lyn Jones on Henson: "For Gavin to be hung out to dry like this is inexcusable"

"They have backed that up with the decision on Gavin and so now everybody knows now that they can't step out of line. I've never spoken to him about any further than this season, he always seemed pretty focused on getting back to playing rugby with the Blues.

"It's anybody's guess what will happen now. I hope from a rugby perspective that he does get playing again."

While Warburton has supported the Blues' decision- others are not so pleased. Current Blues centre Casey Laulala - who will leave the region at the end of the season - spoke out against the side's decision saying on his Twitter account - in a Tweet that was later removed - of the incident involving Henson: "It wasn't bad at all. Been blown out of proportion. Club are just amateurs dealing with things."

And former Ospreys coach Lyn Jones said: "They have to be looking at who was running that trip to Glasgow, they've got to be looking at the team manager. Why was he drinking in the morning? Why didn't they stamp that out?

"Henson's not innocent - he's made a mistake, like every other player. Like Danny Care, but has he been sacked by Quins? There are several hundred examples like this.

"It took a drugs scandal in Bath to get rid of some players. For Gavin to be hung out to dry like this is inexcusable."

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