5:17pm Sunday 2nd March 2014
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons long-term target Gavin Henson is finally set to arrive at Rodney Parade this summer, it is understood.
The former Lion and Grand Slam winner has a close connection with his former coach Lyn Jones and is set to return to Wales after an unsuccessful spell with Bath in the Aviva Premiership.
And the Dragons, who have already confirmed the capture of Lee Byrne and Aled Brew next term, are also in pole position to snap up exciting outside half Matthew Morgan.
The Dragons have tried twice in the past to land Henson, but his former coach at the Ospreys, Jones, didn’t have the budget to compete with the English Premiership buck.
However, money has been made available to the Dragons as they make a real fist of re-shaping their squad and Jones, the man who has tended to always get the best out of Henson, is keen to get the opportunity once more.
And the player himself has made clear that a switch to Rodney Parade is in his thoughts.
Henson said: “Bath signed me as cover and I was hoping I would push my way into the first team but it’s been playing that well I haven’t had too many chances.
“When I joined them I didn’t have a lot of options elsewhere but, irrespective of my future at Bath, I want to keep on playing rugby.
“I do feel I have a few more years of good rugby in me and I don’t want to stop at the end of the season. If it’s not at Bath, hopefully somebody else will want me.
“Things seem to be on the up at the Dragons with Lyn in charge and ‘Byrney’ and ‘Brewy’ on the way. Perhaps they’d be interested in me,” said Henson last month.
“Seriously, I’d consider anything ... I’ve always enjoyed working with Lyn.”
The Argus understands that at board level, there is a belief among the Rodney Parade hierarchy that a fully fit and motivated Henson is still box office and can “put bums on seats,” and faith that Jones is the man to revitalise the former Saracens and Blues player.
Meanwhile, speculation has also increased about the Dragons winning the race to sign in-demand winger Matthew Morgan.
The 21-year-old’s contract with the Ospreys is up at the end of the season and he’s thought to be in demand in Wales and England.
However, it is thought that the Dragons are ahead in the race for his signature with the Ospreys not seemingly confident of keeping him.
“I could not comment whether Matthew will be here next season,” said backs coach Gruff Rees.
“We are going ahead with our succession plans and acknowledging we have a couple of 10s coming through our system.
“He is good value for what he does during these windows. If that’s enough for Matthew I don’t know. He will probably look at his options because he wants to be a No.1 somewhere.
“He understands the big picture and where he has to be patient with the frustration of the national player (Biggar) coming back in.
“He has been good in that respect. He does spark our attacking game and we know about his line-breaking ability.”
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