Wales recalls Gavin Henson for rugby's 6 Nations
Updated: January 18, 2012, 11:46
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CARDIFF, Wales(AP) Wales recalled Gavin Henson for rugby's Six Nations on Wednesday, handing the center what could be a last chance to re-establish himself at international level.
Henson missed Wales' fourth-place finish at last year's World Cup because of a broken arm and is one of four players in the 35-man squad who did not make at least the tournament training squad or December's test against Australia.
With first-choice inside center Jamie Roberts carrying a knee injury, coach Warren Gatland also called up Ospreys center Ashley Beck as one of six uncapped players.
The others are wing Harry Robinson, scrumhalf Rhys Webb, prop Rhodri Jones, fullback Liam Williams and lock Lou Reed.
"We have had to strike a balance with this squad,'' Gatland said. "The majority are those players who excelled for Wales during the Rugby World Cup, but we are also taking the opportunity to look at one or two youngsters before probably cutting our numbers even further.''
The squad will be trimmed after a week of intense training, which includes the use of cryotherapy chambers to improve recovery and allow players to cram in more sessions.
Wales' fitness after training alongside Poland's Olympic athletes was cited as one of the reasons for the players' sometimes sparkling play in New Zealand, and the squad is headed back to the country in hope of a repeat.
"Continuity of selection is pretty important on the back of the Rugby World Cup,'' assistant coach Rob Howley said. "We decided to take a 35-man squad to Poland, similar to the way we did prior to the Rugby World Cup, because competition for places in the side is critical.''
That competition means that this may be a last chance of success for Henson, who is 30 next month and has been criticized by Welsh fans and media for apparently putting a celebrity lifestyle ahead of his rugby career.
Even so, his imaginative attacking play and the experience of 33 tests in more than 10 years could be valuable in a campaign that opens against Ireland in Dublin of Feb. 5.
Henson would probably have been at the World Cup but broke his arm after a half hour of an August warmup against England. That match at Twickenham was one of only two appearances in three years blighted by injury, poor form and a self-imposed break from the game.
His other appearance was against the Barbarians in June.
"These are exciting times for Welsh rugby,'' Gatland said. "We showed a huge amount of potential at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and we will be working as hard as humanly possible to ensure that we reach our potential in this year's Six Nations.''
Backs: Mike Phillips, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Webb, Rhys Priestland, James Hook, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Gavin Henson, Ashley Beck, George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Harry Robinson, Liam Williams, Lee Byrne.
Forwards: Craig Mitchell, Adam Jones, Ryan Bevington, Gethin Jenkins, Paul James, Rhys Gill, Rhodri Jones, Matthew Rees, Huw Bennett, Ken Owens, Bradley Davies, Ian Evans, Lou Reed, Ryan Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau, Andy Powell.