First start: Gavin Henson will make his first appearance in the Aviva Premiership since January 2011

by Ben Coles

LONDON WELSH have handed a first start to former Wales back Gavin Henson for their clash with Saracens on Sunday.

Henson was Welsh’s star signing over the summer following their promotion, but has been sidelined for six weeks with a minor cheekbone fracture picked up in a pre-season friendly against the Scarlets.

“I am really looking forward to making my first start for London Welsh in the Aviva Premiership on Sunday,” said Henson.

“Having been given the opportunity by Lyn Jones and the club to play in the Premiership, it was both disappointing and frustrating to pick up an injury against Scarlets in pre-season.

“However, the boys have done really well in the first five games and now I just cannot wait to start playing my part with the rest of the team. I am also very excited about playing at the Kassam in front of the London Welsh supporters for the first time

“Saracens are an extremely good side, we know that, but this is a great opportunity both for me and for London Welsh to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the Aviva Premiership.”

London Welsh have surprised both fans and pundits with two wins so far this season against Exeter and Sale, whilst they also picked up a bonus point against Gloucester at home last weekend.

Fly-half Gordon Ross has been key to their success so far, racking up 53 points including 19 in the win over Sale, meaning that Henson will be under pressure to prove his selection ahead of Ross is the right call.

Sunday will also be the first time Henson has played against his old club Saracens since his controversial departure from the club in 2010 after just four appearances. A high profile dispute with Joe Van Niekerk and Matt Henjak at Toulon led to him leaving the club at the end of the season, before he was sacked by Cardiff Blues following an incident on a flight back from Glasgow.

With his move to London Welsh seen by many as his last chance, Henson’s every move will be scrutinised on and off the field over the rest of the season as he bids to re-capture the form that saw him win two Grand Slam titles with Wales in 2005 and 2008.