Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Gavin Henson is an overhyped, arrogant fart

Gavin Henson and Kevin Pietersen share some things in common. They are young, they are loved by the media, and they have strange, flashy haircuts. That is where the comparison ends. Whereas Pietersen is able to back up his hype with talent, Henson remains the centre of media attention yet fails to deliver the goods on the pitch. Furthermore, whereas it appears Pietersen is able to treat the two impostors of triumph and disaster just the same, Henson's performance after the Southland match yesterday showed just how little of a team player he is. Yes, in many ways it's good to be disappointed about not being picked for the Lions Test side. Indeed, I'd be worried if anyone came out and said "yeah, I didn't want to be picked." But to be moping about, saying you can't understand why you aren't picked for the side is bad for the team.

Not that this should surprise any true fan of rugby. Henson is a player with an eye on the highlight reel, not the final score. Yesterday's match was a case in point. He had two admittedly well-taken tries (though most inside centres claiming a right to a Lions place should have finished them off), yet his all-round game was poor. His tackling was uncommitted at best, and downright awful at worst; his tactical kicking was poor; he continued his usual habit of seeking the break first and looking for the sensible option second.

These aren't qualities that can beat the All Blacks. Yes, he has some game-changing skill, but you can't beat New Zealand 44-42. And for those who thinks he can win a game - take the England-Wales match in this year's Six Nations. As much as it pains me to admit it, Wales should have taken England apart in the first half. Yet they left far too many points on the pitch, due to their complete inability to send home four-to-one overlaps. Why? Because Henson was always looking for the outside break, and personal glory, rather than the simple passes which would have set his team-mates free to score. That's the kind of player Henson is, and that's why Sir Clive Woodward is dead right in refusing to pick him for the Lions side.