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What Tom Shanklin had to say about former teammate Gavin Henson

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Friday Feb 23, 2024

Tom Shanklin has been chatting with the crew at Off The Ball about his previous life as a professional rugby player, as well as discussing Wales’ impending match with “The best Ireland team we’ve seen.”

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Firstly though, we return to the early part of the century to revisit Shanklin’s time in a Welsh jersey.

Initially hailed as the ‘super sub’, Shanklin’s relentless drive and skill soon cemented his place in the starting lineup for Wales. His tenacity gained him a reputation as a workhorse, allowing him to also cross the try line an impressive 20 times in 70 appearances.

But Shanklin’s journey wasn’t without its hurdles. Despite being called up twice to the prestigious British and Irish Lions squad, fate dealt him a cruel blow. A knee injury in 2005 dashed his hopes of making an impact in New Zealand, while a shoulder injury in 2009 shattered his dreams of touring South Africa.

In 2011, after enduring his fourth knee operation, Shanklin finally called it a day.

Now, looking back at his career, the former Cardiff Blues player has shared his opinion on the best centre he played with for Wales – Gavin Henson.

“We worked really well together” Shanklin started. “He was the flash, tanned, spiky hair, celebrity girlfriend, gold and silver boots player, and I was more so the workhorse out of the two.

“But you need those Ying and Yang’s to work because he was targeted loads. Everyone tried to target him because he was a flash player and he was the poster boy of Welsh rugby.

“He was so good honestly. He was the best centre I’ve played with in Wales because he had time on the ball, he had visionHenson’s and defensively he was a rock.

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“You look back at some of the tackles he made and he was so strong, he could give you gain line, he was good at hitting short lines but he would open up space elsewhere so the combination just worked.

“I just wish he could have played a little bit more for Wales, I wish we could have seen the full potential because I look at O5 and O8 and he was so good then. We saw a dip in form between them and just wonder how much he actually wanted to play rugby after that.”

Finally…a word on Ireland:

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