SARACENS boss Brendan Venter admitted his relief last night after the club completed protracted negotiations to sign Wales back Gavin Henson from Ospreys, a move first reported by City A.M.
Henson, who has not played competitively for more than 18 months, will officially join the Premiership club today having agreed a contract that runs until the end of the season.
The high-profile signing comes after Saracens and Ospreys finally shook hands on a confidential compensation payment for the British Lion following more than a week of discussions.
“I’m very relieved that he can join us properly [on Thursday],” Venter told City A.M.
Ospreys managing director Mike Cuddy said he was “disappointed and frustrated” at the departure of Henson, who was still contracted to the Welsh outfit, but had “reluctantly agreed” to let him move to London.
Henson’s return to playing will be delayed until he has finished competing in Strictly Come Dancing, but Venter said that, in the meantime, the 28-year-old would juggle training with the club with practise sessions for the television show.
“I think how soon he plays will depend on the programme,” added the director of rugby. “My initial thoughts are it’ll be quite quickly but it also depends on the Strictly scenario. I’m not sure how that will work out.”
Injury and off-field issues have kept Henson away from the game since March 2009 but the controversial poster boy for Welsh rugby has decided now is the time to relaunch his career and is determined to gatecrash the national side too.
His desire to move to the capital, where his children live, coincided with Sarries’ sudden need for a player to challenge youngster Alex Goode for the No10 shirt, following an injury to regular fly-half Derick Hougaard.
“He is joining to be part of the set-up,” Venter said. “Alex Goode has done really well in the last two games but we need depth. If we had got an injury to Goode or Chris Wyles then we would be a man down.”
Cuddy added: “In the interests of Gavin personally, and for Welsh rugby in general, we have reluctantly agreed to his request to be released from his contract with immediate effect, enabling him to return to rugby with Saracens.”