World Cup - Henson faces shock challenger at centre

Tue, 02 Aug 08:59:00 2011

Gavin Henson could have an unexpected rival for a place in Wales' World Cup squad - unheralded Scarlets prospect Scott Williams.

World Cup - Henson faces challenger

Wales coach Warren Gatland has hailed 20-year-old Williams' impact during World Cup preparations, which move up a gear next Saturday with a warm-up clash against England at Twickenham.

Jamie Roberts and Jon Davies seem shoo-ins for two of the centre berths, and with James Hook a proven Test centre or fly-half, it could be that Henson finds himself vying for a place with the likes of Williams. Gatland said: "He (Henson) will hopefully get an opportunity. He is in a position at the moment where there is good competition."

He added: "You've got Jamie and Jon Davies as probably the established partnership. Gavin comes in, and we've been incredibly impressed with Scott Williams.

"Scott hasn't played a lot of rugby at this level, but we have been impressed with his skill levels and the way he reads defence. He has definitely got something to his game.

"He is a player to watch out for in the future. Whether he gets opportunities in the next few weeks and the World Cup, he has given a few headaches at the moment with the way he has impressed us at training."

Gatland, meanwhile, is hopeful captain Matthew Rees will be fit to lead Wales at the World Cup next month despite being laid low by a neck problem.

Scarlets hooker Rees has already been ruled out of Wales' trip to Twickenham, with flanker Sam Warburton set to skipper the side. Gatland admits that surgery is a possibility for Rees, who has won 46 caps and was appointed Wales skipper last November.

But the 30-year-old is due to undergo injections in the hope it will relieve pressure on his neck, with any operation not taking place until after the World Cup.

"An operation is a possibility, but we are hoping it definitely won't be before the World Cup. If he doesn't improve, he may need something after the World Cup," added Gatland.

PA Sport

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