Jenkins takes heart from Henson’s return

WALES coach Gareth Jenkins hailed Gavin Henson’s reappearance at international level as a “positive” element of his side’s last-ditch 29-23 defeat to Australia in Sydney.

Henson had 21 minutes of action after being out with a knee ligament strain since January, six of them as a first-half blood replacement for try-scoring skipper Gareth Thomas and the rest as he took over from Wales’ other try-scorer Jamie Robinson for the last 15 frenetic minutes.

Jenkins said: “Gav did well when he came on. It was right to bring him on in the second half and he proved he’s still skilled and has an appetite for the game.”

Henson will now be considered for a more significant role for the second Test in Brisbane. Jenkins expects Australian-born second row Brent Cockbain to be available. Cockbain left the fray following a blow to his head after 35 minutes, to be replaced by fellow Lion Michael Owen.

But Cockbain should be free to return to action in Queensland, where he grew up, having being born in New South Wales.

If Cockbain does not make it in time for Wednesday’s team announcement, Jenkins will be forced into a rethink.

He could ask Owen to carry on where he left off in Sydney, see if Cardiff Blues forward Scott Morgan can rise to the challenge of Test rugby having been named as a utility forward, or give Jonathan Thomas an opportunity.

The Wallabies have no such concerns. Connolly will make two or three changes to the starting line-up and may be tempted to reunite George Gregan and Stephen Larkham at half-back if the latter is passed fit following hamstring trouble.

Gregan could find himself sitting on the bench behind Matt Giteau, while Connolly admitted his side need more direction following Sam Norton-Knight’s fraught debut as Larkham’s deputy.

Connolly said: “We were lateral at times and didn’t attack the right areas and weren’t as efficient at the breakdown as we should have been. I think both teams will settle and when we do, we’ll be a bit more composed.

“The Welsh scrum was good. Their line-out got iffy at times, but stood up to it. Colin Charvis was good on the ball, James Hook is a good player and Jamie Robinson was good at 13.”

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