Silver boots, perma-tanned skin, shaven legs and gravity-defying red spikes in his hair – Gavin Henson is Wales’s hottest new celeb and rugby’s golden boy. This is his story of a momentous year in rugby, starting with an epic Six Nations Grand Slam for Wales, followed by the toughest of all tours, the British Lions in New Zealand.
After kicking the 50-yard goal that sent England to shock defeat in the 2005 Six Nations, the 23-year-old Gavin Henson demonstrated that here, at last, was a Welsh sportsman who was ready to put his proud rugby nation back on the world map.
Wales’s Grand Slam triumph – their first since 1978 – was done the hard way, with dramatic victories against the world champions followed by France in Paris, and climaxing in the Millennium stadium against Ireland, amid a crescendo of noise and passion-fuelled expectation.
The flamboyant Henson relives those special moments on and off the field: the build-up to the games and the stories from within the inner sanctum of the Welsh dressing room; the pressure of suddenly becoming favourites to win the trophy; the nail-biting victories over England and France; and the moment when Henson knew that life would never be the same again.
Fast forward to summer 2005. Wales’s No 12, the inside-centre whose clever running, booming kicks and crunching tackling make him a genuine all-rounder, is the favourite to play alongside captain and Irish phenomenon Brian O’Driscoll in the Lions team against the All Blacks in this most eagerly awaited clash of the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Henson’s insight into this defining tour, his views on coach Clive Woodward and his home nation colleagues (including a fit-again Jonny Wilkinson), and the eye-opening stories away from the rugby – plus all the other highlights of an unprecedented season for Wales’s new generation of talent – will make this book essential reading for the autumn.
‘Henson has almost single-handedly ushered the Welsh game out of the age of scrubbed-scalp, gap-toothed boyos into the new one of Cool Cymru’ Observer
About the author
Gavin Henson was born in the South Wales town of Pencoed in 1982. From a classic Welsh rugby background – both his grandfather and father played for Maesteg – he made his full debut for Wales against Japan in 2001 and has 14 caps for his country, playing at inside-centre. He plays his club rugby for Neath-Swansea Ospreys.
Graham Thomas is a rugby journalist who works for BBC Sport. He collaborated with Phil Bennett on the Welsh legend’s acclaimed autobiography, first published by CollinsWillow in 2003.