June International Tours

Henson given tour incentive

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Gavin Henson has been told he can claim a place on Wales’ May tour of Australia despite being ruled out of the Six Nations Championship.

Henson has been advised to rest a knee ligament problem for the next month, meaning he has no chance of playing a part in the 2007 Championship.

But Wales coach Gareth Jenkins has dangled the carrot of a summer tour place in front of the Ospreys star for the two Tests in Australia at the end of May.

Jenkins also laid down the same challenge to Henson’s regional team-mate Sonny Parker who makes a comeback from a knee injury in the Ospreys’ Magners League clash with Ulster at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night.

Parker, despite his return to action, is unlikely to play any part in this season’s Six Nations.

“Gavin has to play rugby and produce form,” insisted Jenkins.

“And we will watch him between now and the end of the season with a view that there is an opportunity to play rugby in Australia in the summer.

“Unfortunately for Sonny he is playing his first game a week before the Italy game, so realistically I wouldn’t expect Sonny to make such an impact that it would influence me at the moment.

“But Sonny has got enough time between now and the end of the season to get back in to the flow and hopefully he is the type of player we would want to take to Australia.”

Jenkins has also unveiled the latest member the management team – psycho-physiology and performance coach John Neal.

He comes to Welsh rugby having worked as an advisor to England and West Indies cricket, as well as the Rugby Football Union, and he will work closely with coaches and players alike aimed at improving and maintaining performance.

With Wales pointless at the bottom of the Six Nations table having registered three straight defeats Neal could be a busy man.

“John will bring a new dimension to our team and will be a value to everyone across the board, from senior players right through the age groups to management,” said Jenkins.

“We are about creating an environment for elite performance and that means looking at every area of what we do and assessing top-level expertise wherever we can.

“It’s not a new science but I think the time is appropriate to attach ourselves to this opportunity prior to the World Cup.

“John has already begun to have a positive impact on the squad and he comes to us with high recommendation and a long list of previous success in the field of sports psycho-physiology and elite performance.”

Neal believes his field of expertise has a proven track record and expects to produce more mentally tough players ahead of the World Cup in September.

“I do see my role as establishing structures to enhance the talents available there as well as with the players,” he said.

“Psycho-physiology and performance coaching has an established record of showing results and I’m relishing the opportunity of working with one of the top teams in world sport over the coming season.

“I will be putting together structures in place to ensure we have mentally tough, well-organised rugby players throughout Wales.”

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis hailed the appointment of Neal.

“He will be an asset to the Wales management team and his presence is proof that we recognise the demands of professional rugby on the modern athlete,” said Lewis.

“And as a union we are determined to invest in all the necessary areas to ensure our teams are fully prepared.”

 

365 Digital 

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