Roberts backs Henson to star
Team-mates behind controversial centre
Last Updated: August 12, 2011 5:41pm
Gavin Henson: Big chance to impress against England
Jamie Roberts has backed Gavin Henson to boost his World Cup hopes in Wales' Cardiff showdown with England on Saturday.
Less than a year ago Roberts was one of the Welsh players surprised to see a giant poster of Henson used at the Millennium Stadium to launch a new kit.
At the time Henson was starring on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, and Roberts commented simply: "The boys have worked very hard over the last couple of years since he hasn't been here, so it is an interesting decision to use that picture."
But times have changed and a driven Henson is now back with the support of his team-mates, including Roberts.
"Gavin has been out of the game for a while," said the Cardiff Blues star.
"But he has come back in, trained well and I am sure more than anything he's looking to prove to people that he can perform on the international stage.
"The boys are behind him, and I will be helping him try to do that on Saturday.
"He's a very talented player and hopefully he can get back to the heights that he hit before he walked away from the game a couple of years ago.
"It is going to be hard for him, but it's a challenge he won't shirk from. Hopefully, he will go well on Saturday. There is nothing for him to be afraid of. He will be among experienced players, and I'm sure he will bring something new to the team.
"We did play together once before - in Italy in the 2009 Six Nations - and I don't think either me or Gav touched the ball until the 60th minute!"
Warren Gatland's men can reflect on just five victories in the last 20 Tests - against Italy (twice), Scotland (twice) and Ireland - and their success rate since the last World Cup stands at barely 47%.
"Having lost twice to them (England) this year, I think there is a bit of pressure on us to win at home," said Roberts.
"The Welsh nation expects, and as players we need to start expecting victories. We are the home team and we need to produce the goods.
"It's now or never, really. We beat England at the Millennium Stadium in 2009, which I think was one of the toughest internationals I've played in. It was brutal.
"But my memories of it are awesome. We were very direct, and I think we outmuscled England that day.
"But going into the World Cup we want a couple of good wins under our belt, and you don't get a bigger game than England.
"This squad is full of a lot of good players, very experienced players who have been at the highest level for a long time. We certainly need to up our game this week."