GAVIN HENSON REVEALS WHY HE WANTS TO QUIT OSPREYS
Henson targets fly-half switchBy Gareth Roberts
Ospreys and Wales star Gavin Henson has given an exclusive and astonishingly frank interview to BBC Wales about the private problems affecting his rugby.
In a Scrum V TV programme on Thursday, he says he wants to quit the Ospreys to be closer to his children in London.
The 28-year-old also thinks Wales have missed him during an 18-month absence.
And he feels it will take him only “one or two games” to reach Six Nations form – and wants to move from centre to fly-half when he returns to action.
Henson is on indefinite unpaid leave from the Ospreys and is contracted to the west Wales region until May 2011, but Scrum V revealed on 9 September that he wanted to move away. I look on examples of Gareth Thomas and Stephen Jones – they left Wales and suddenly people were saying they were brilliant players, brilliant people because they left Wales. So I'm thinking: 'Maybe I'll get good press then if I leave Wales like they did and then come back'
In Strictly Gavin: A Scrum V Special, to be screened on BBC TWO Wales and online at 2000 BST on Thursday, Henson says he will only return to play for the Ospreys if his legal advisors say he has no other choice.
Henson says he wants “time out” from the Ospreys following the break up of his relationship with entertainer Charlotte Church, the mother of his two children.
He says remaining at the Liberty Stadium is the last option he wants to take at the moment, although he indicates he could return there at the end of the season.
Henson claims he has tried to persuade the Ospreys to let him leave for the past nine months.
But Ospreys director of coaching Scott Johnson said on Sunday he would recommend that the region hold the player to his contract.
Henson explains his wish to leave by saying: “It's just tough. It's because I know the players so well and obviously there'll be banter and obviously the personal relationship with Charlotte is all in the newspapers… I'm a bit raw, to be honest.
“I don't want to face it. I want to be somewhere new where people are a little bit too respectful to ask about my business and just don't know who I am… and just have a fresh club and see where I am rugby-wise and then come back to Wales.”
He also says he wants to escape the criticism from the Welsh media.
“I look on examples of Gareth Thomas and Stephen Jones – they left Wales and suddenly people were saying they were brilliant players, brilliant people because they left Wales,” says Henson.
Henson was injured in March, 2009 for Ospreys against Gloucester
“So I'm thinking: 'Maybe I'll get good press then if I leave Wales like they did and then come back.'
“So things like that go through my mind as well. But it's hard with the Charlotte situation.”
Henson is currently appearing in Strictly Come Dancing and had already said he intended to return to rugby when his commitments to the BBC show were over.
“I just feel I need time away in London because I've got work here with Strictly and then hopefully get a club and then I was wanting to go back [to the Ospreys],” he tells Thursday's Scrum V programme.
Henson's name has been linked with a number of clubs, among them Wasps. but he says playing in London is his preference, partly because his young children, Ruby and Dexter, are often there as a result of Church's professional commitments.
However, he claims not to have received any offers from other clubs.
He says: “The last thing I want to do is bad-mouth Charlotte at all. I'm never going to do that – she's the mother of my kids.
“We're just opposites and it just hasn't worked out. It's a nightmare situation and it's been in the tabloids at the weekend again.”
He also reveals his heartache at not being around his children, adding: “It's the worst thing in the world to see your kids being brought up by another fella.
“It's not nice at all. I don't want people feeling sorry for me, it goes on and I've got to deal with it – and I'm dealing with it.”
I opened heart to Ospreys – Henson
Meanwhile, Henson – a 2005 British and Irish Lion and Wales 2005 and 2008 Grand Slams winner – says he is desperate to play again and is confident that, once his Strictly Come Dancing commitments are completed, he can make an immediate rugby impact and take part in the 2011 Six Nations.
He has not played rugby since March 2009 after suffering an ankle injury.
Henson says: “I really believe that I might only need one or two games to prove I've still got it and I think the Welsh team has slightly missed me a bit.
“So if I can come back and be as good or better than I was when I last played or back to the standards of 2005/2004 – which I think I can now because my body's feeling good – then, yeah, I can get in that Six Nations squad.”
Earlier in September, Wales coach Warren Gatland said he hoped Henson would be available to play in the 2011 World Cup but warned he would need to be back on the field by January in order to do so.
Meanwhile, Henson has also had to deal with the controversy that followed his appearance as the frontman for Wales' new rugby kit.
The massive image of the player that was draped from the Millennium Stadium drew critical and bewildered comments from some of Henson's erstwhile team-mates. 606: DEBATE
Should the Ospreys let Henson go?
“If I've upset them – and it's not on jealousy grounds – then obviously I'll be apologetic – or I'll settle it on the field, against them,” he says, chuckling at the latter part of that statement.
“But I hope not. I hope they can just appreciate where I am in my life at the moment.”
However, he admits to being naÃ¯ve over the use the image, saying: “I didn't know they [the Welsh Rugby Union] were going to do that. I just got asked 'would you do a photo in the new Welsh shirt?'
“Have they never done anything like that before with a picture on the side of the stadium?
“I was a bit naÃ¯ve there, then maybe. But I just got asked the question. They were asking ex-players and stuff and technically I may have been an ex-player, so I thought yeah, you know.
“There was no money involved or anything. They said the thing is good for grassroots rugby in Wales, so it was a chance to put on the Welsh jersey again and that was a nice feeling, putting that on.
“It was nice, it fitted well, but obviously when it's on the side of the stadium and I haven't played the game for like 18 months, then I can understand why people are annoyed.
“I didn't mean to annoy people, I thought I might have been doing a good thing, but hopefully people will see me in a Welsh jersey in the Six Nations and then it might all make a bit of sense.”