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Exiles coach pleads: Give Gavin a chance and don't expect miracles
6:30am Wednesday 11th July 2012 in Sport
Gavin Henson has become the first high-profile signing of London Welsh’s promotion to the Aviva Premiership – but Exiles head coach Lyn Jones has warned supporters not to expect miracles.
Henson arrives at the Kassam Stadium-based club with a big reputation, having acquired 33 caps for Wales, toured with the British Lions in 2005 in New Zealand and landed two Celtic league titles with the Ospreys.
The problem for Henson is he’s barely played any rugby in recent seasons.
London Welsh are his fifth club in little over 18 months after being released by the Ospreys in 2010 and having had short stints at Saracens, Toulon and Cardiff Blues, from where he was eventually sacked in April after a drunken misdemeanour.
But the London Welsh boss is convinced Henson, 30, will be a changed man as he returns to what he knows – he played under Jones for five-years at Ospreys and will also line-up alongside former club and international colleague Sonny Parker for the Exiles.
Henson was officially unveiled as a London Welsh player at Old Deer Park in Richmond this week, but he was kept away from the watching press pack.
And Jones insists it will be his rugby and not his off-field headlines that will make him a prominent player for London Welsh this season.
“There’s a good chance Gavin will never reach those heights from the Ospreys again, but he just needs to get up to speed and establish himself.
“I’m not really confident he’ll become a very, very good player until about maybe mid-October, November,” said Jones.
“The guy needs a bit of time, he needs a bit of space. His tools are quite blunt and he’ll need to sharpen them up, so he’s got a lot of work ahead of him that he’s prepared to get on with.
“He’s rolling his sleeves up, and all you can do is offer people opportunities and it’s up to them how they take it, but we’re confident that he can deliver.
“Gavin has a great talent, but over the past three or four seasons he has not realised his full potential for a number of reasons that are well documented.
“I sincerely hope and believe he can now draw a line under that period and move forward again with London Welsh.
“What’s important for Gavin is that he concentrates 100 per cent on his game and learning how to become the best he can possibly be again.
“I think he can add a great deal to our game and we can also do a lot for him.”
* The J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s Series kicks off on 13 July at Harlequins, with rounds at Sale Sharks and Gloucester Rugby, and the final at Bath Rugby. Visit: www.jpmorgan7s.com to find out more