Hook likely to miss Spala camp
January 6, 2012
James Hook lines up a penalty during the World Cup © Getty Images
Wales back James Hook looks likely to miss their pre-Six Nations training camp due to Perpignan wanting to keep hold of their playmaker.
The 26-year-old moved to the Top 14 giants in the summer which presented a potential conflict with his international ambitions. The International Rugby Board (IRB) state that clubs have to release their players the week prior to the Six Nations but Wales boss Warren Gatland has an agreement in place with Wales' four regions which allows him access to his chosen squad a fortnight before the start of the tournament. A brutal regime in Spala has been lined up - similar to what the side underwent before the 2011 World Cup - but with the players in France outside of Gatland's agreement, they can deny Wales access.
Bayonne have already given Mike Phillips permission to link-up with Wales, while Clermont are said to have also allowed Lee Byrne to attend the camp from January 22. Both players are required back in France in time for their respective clashes in the Top 14 the following weekend.
But Perpignan's Hook admits it is unlikely that he will be given time off to attend the Spala camp. "Ultimately I'm out here and have a job to do," Hook told the BBC. "I love the club I'm with now and don't want to upset the applecart here.
"There is a release for the French clubs only one week before the Six Nations and Warren wants two weeks. So it is difficult but all I can do is to express my ambitions to play for Wales and if they want me I'm available. Hopefully I'll be available two weeks before but definitely one week before.
"Perpignan have a big game against Brive the week before the first Six Nations game so it is up to the club. If the club want me here I'll have to play and I'll put 100% into that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape