Saracens are set to unveil Wales star Gavin Henson as their latest recruit after the Ospreys “reluctantly agreed” to release him from his contract.
Henson could be paraded as a Saracens player before the end of this week.
The 28-year-old has not played for 18 months after going on unpaid leave following the latest in a series of injury setbacks. He was under contract with the Ospreys until next May.
Centre Henson is currently appearing on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing series, a commitment which could last until Christmas, but he took part in his first Saracens training session earlier this week.
His arrival at Vicarage Road would give Saracens additional fly-half cover after their South African number 10 Derick Hougaard suffered a season-ending Achilles injury earlier this month.
Henson won the last of his 31 Wales caps against Ireland during the 2009 RBS Six Nations Championship, but he has spoken of ambitions to play in next year’s World Cup.
Ospreys managing director Mike Cuddy said: “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.
“I am disappointed and frustrated, both personally for myself and for the Ospreys, as one thing we would all want to see is Gavin Henson back in an Ospreys shirt.
“However, circumstances haven’t allowed for that to happen, and it is necessary that we make the decision that we have in order to allow everyone to move forward from the current position.
“With the Rugby World Cup taking place next year, no doubt that will be the focus of Gavin’s efforts over the coming months.
“I know how strong Gavin’s personal desire is to play at a World Cup. It has been a long-term ambition of his, and I certainly didn’t want to be the person who prevented him from achieving that aim by standing in his way.
Cuddy continued: “As a rugby organisation, we pride ourselves on our contribution to the national set-up, and we strongly believe that we would be the best place for Gavin to launch his return to rugby and to target a place in the Wales squad.
“However, as frustrating as it is for everyone involved at the Ospreys, on this occasion we have to concede that he will not play for us during the remaining time on his contract, and as such, take the responsible course of action that is best for all concerned.”
It is not known at this stage when Henson could make his Saracens debut.
After this weekend’s Premiership clash at home to Exeter, Saracens face LV= Cup ties against Northampton and Gloucester on November 7 and 13, before resuming league action with matches against Bath, Gloucester and Harlequins between November 21 and December 5.
Although Henson has kept himself fit during a prolonged absence from rugby, match fitness is another matter.
Henson’s television commitments are also likely to impact on his availability for training and games unless Saracens can come to an agreement with the BBC.