Henson returns as Jones reaches landmark

Gavin Henson will make his first international appearance in more than two years as fellow Lion Stephen Jones prepares to win his 100th Welsh cap. [more]

Henson returns as Jones reaches landmark

Gavin Henson will make his first international appearance in more than two years as fellow Lion Stephen Jones prepares to win his 100th Welsh cap.

Henson, who has been in the international wilderness since taking an 18-month sabbatical from the sport in the spring of 2009, will start at outside centre when Wales take on the Barbarians on Saturday afternoon.

The 29-year-old headline maker will play alongside the second Welshman to reach a century of Wales caps as Scarlets playmaker Jones replaces James Hook at fly-half.

Jones has already passed the 100-cap barrier in international rugby due to his six Test appearances for the Lions but he will now join Gareth Thomas as the only man to have hit the remarkable figure for Wales alone.

"Stephen has reached a fantastic milestone and he deserves all the plaudits he will get," said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

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"But he is so important to us and will continue to be so in the coming months that there is also a sense that it is great for us to get his 100th cap out of the way. He still has so much more to give and it is a testament to him that he is still hungry.

"He is not limping towards a century of caps with a sense of relief, but bursting through the landmark, relishing the Baa-Baas game, but then intent on focussing on the World Cup and the matches ahead."

Unsurprisingly given his celebrity status, it is Henson’s recall that is attracting the most attention.

The 2005 Test Lion is currently without a club after leaving Toulon at the end of last month but Gatland is convinced the double Grand Slam winner will justify his selection.

"It's an opportunity for players like Gavin to do his talking on the rugby pitch," added Gatland.

"We have Andrew Bishop, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies and now Scott Williams [at centre], but we need depth and hopefully Gavin does well and he puts some pressure on the established guys.

"He tells us it's fantastic to be back in this environment, that he has really missed it and is loving his rugby at the moment and that's a real positive for us. He knows he just needs to let his rugby do the talking now."

Henson and Jones are among five Lions in the Welsh matchday 22, with scrum-half Mike Phillips and back row Ryan Jones included in the starting line up and Alun Wyn Jones named among the replacements.

Gatland hands debuts to Dragons No8 Toby Faletau and Ospreys prop Ryan Bevington in a side that includes seven survivors from the Six Nations defeat to France last time out.

"We have tried to get the right mixture of youth and experience in there and I'd like to think the likes of Ryan Bevington and Toby Faletau will look at this and think 'this is a good chance for me'."

Wales: Morgan Stoddard (Scarlets); George North (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Gavin Henson (Unattached), Aled Brew (Newport Gwent Dragons); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Michael Phillips (Ospreys); Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Paul James (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Danny Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)

Replacements: Lloyd Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets)

Barbarians squad (side to be named later today)

Forwards: S Bruno (Toulon), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), L Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso), C Hayman (Toulon), D Kubriashvili (Toulon), E Lund (Biarritz), S Parisse (Stade Francais), S Perugini (Aironi), G Smith (Toulon), I Tekori (Castres Olympique), I Thomas (Scarlets), P Tito (Cardiff Blues), J van Niekerk (Toulon), M Williams (Cardiff Blues)

Backs: B Baby (Clermont Auvergne), M Bastareaud (Stade Francais), D Howlett (Munster), B James (Clermont Auvergne), N Jeanjean (Brive), W Mason (Toulon), F Michalak (Toulouse), R Pienaar (Ulster), S Rabini (La Rochelle), P Sackey (Toulon), S Tillous-Borde (Castres Olympique), T Visser (Edinburgh)

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