Howley: 'Hogg can play at fly-half'
May 1, 2013
Stuart Hogg could line up at fly-half for the Lions © Getty Images
Lions boss Warren Gatland named just two fly-halves in his 37-man squad with Ireland's Jonathan Sexton and England's Owen Farrell getting the nod. With the likes of James Hook and Billy Twelvetrees missing out on selection, Howley has inked in Hogg as cover for the No.10 slot if required.
The 20-year-old has never played in the position for Glasgow Warriors but has at junior level and Howley has backed him to deliver. Howley said: "James Hook was called up in 2009 as a utility player and we discussed Billy Twelvetrees, who was in the mix, but we have been so impressed with Stuart Hogg in terms of his playing 15 and 13 with Glasgow and we think he has that ability to play 10.
"One thing about the Lions is you give players that opportunity and you just don't know. Stuart is a utility player who has a creative X-factor about him."
The Lions opted for a utility back as their third fly-half because they wanted to give Sexton and Farrell as much preparation time as possible before the Test series.
"You need the 10s to have game time. It is so important for a 10 to have time in combination with the scrum half as well," Howley said. "If you have another 10 you are possibly taking time away from the two 10s who have been selected. That was a key discussion.
"It will mean them backing up (from Saturday to midweek games) and maybe Stuart Hogg will be stepping into that position."
Jonny Wilkinson turned down the invitation to be part of the full Lions tour, although he could be available to fly out should Sexton or Farrell suffer an injury. Hogg is the youngest member of the 2013 Lions squad and one of three members of the Scotland team, along with lock Richie Gray and the New Zealand-born wing Sean Maitland, who joined Glasgow from the Crusaders this season.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland said: "We were really impressed with Sean in the Six Nations. He has a pedigree, coming through the New Zealand system with one of their top schools, New Zealand schoolboys and then the Under-20s.
"I actually selected him to play for Waikato when he was still at school. He's come here, he's a big man who can do the 100 metres in under 11 seconds and has been playing well for Glasgow."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.