Gavin Henson has been ruled out of the World Cup after failing to make the Wales squad for Saturday’s Test against England at Twickenham.
Henson has been struggling for fitness after suffering an Achilles injury in training, the latest in string of problems to affect him since the Lions tour in 2005.
Wales head coach Gareth Jenkins confirmed today that Henson had run out of time to prove he would be ready for the tournament.
“We have taken an early decision on Gavin and decided that he is no longer in contention for the Rugby World Cup squad which must be named before August 14th and so not considered him for selection against England,” said Jenkins.
“We have given him every opportunity to make it and its been a tough summer for Gav in which he has worked hard.
“He’s had every opportunity we could have given him, but the recent Achilles injury in particular has meant he’s not been able to train at full pelt and that has reflected in his conditioning. I think we all agree he is not where he needs to be.
“We have talked to him today and he is very understanding. It was a tough call but a call that was necessary and one we had to make sooner rather than later for his sake as well as ours.
“He is disappointed, but I think he’s realised he’s been fighting a bit of a losing battle in the last month.
“He’s been unlucky. He’s a talent we know that, but a talent is one thing. Current form and being as fit as everyone else is equally important, but Gav is not having the bounce, he’s not having the luck.”
Jenkins added, however, that Henson would remain on standby in case the squad are hit by other injuries.
“He’s an international standard rugby player he knows that and this doesn’t mean his World Cup is necessarily over either,” said Jenkins.
“If his form is good and he’s improved on fitness between now and September then he’ll have a chance. Anything can happen in a World Cup and we may still need him yet if we get an injury.”
Henson, aged 25, also missed out on selection for the World Cup in 2003 and admitted his omission was ``extremely disappointing''.
But the Ospreys centre vowed to keep working on his fitness in case Wales came calling further down the line.
“I can understand the decision that’s been taken,” added Henson.
“I know I’m not quite where I would like to be at the moment conditioning-wise.
“All I can do now is train hard, get back to the Ospreys get my fitness back, get my form back and make myself available if called upon.
“I would have thought that I’d be at full fitness by September, it’s just these games have come around too soon for me.
“It’s extremely disappointing as it is every player’s dream to play rugby for their country, and I’ve taken great pride in pulling on the Wales jersey every time I’ve been selected and it would’ve been particularly special to do so at the World Cup.
“I’m only 25, I believe I’m still young and if I don’t feature in this World Cup I hope I can feature in the next.”