Hook happy to play on
June 1, 2010
James Hook will play through the pain barrier this weekend © Getty Images
James Hook has revealed that he is more than happy to play through the pain barrier this weekend as Wales take on South Africa in Cardiff.
The Ospreys utility back was a surprise call-up to the starting XV after earlier being rested to undergo surgery on a long-standing shoulder injury. He will now delay the procedure until after this weekend, sitting out subsequent Tests against New Zealand. The news boosts Wales in particular following the withdrawal of record try-scorer Shane Williams, who has been ruled out of the tour with a shoulder problem.
"To be honest, I didn't need much persuading," Hook said. "I had gone this far through the season, and I have made myself available for what will be a great game. Obviously, it is a problem that needs to be sorted, but an extra week shouldn't make any difference at all, really.
"Once the surgeon goes in and does what he has to do, he will decide how long it will be. Hopefully, it will be between three and four months and I can be back around September. I am having pain-killing injections, and that is helping me along. I can't really do much more damage to it, it's just the pain factor and getting through that. For the last five months, I have been managing it and doing what is best for myself."
Wales boss Warren Gatland is delighted to have Hook on board, but admitted that the loss of Williams will be felt by the squad.
"I think it is fantastic for James to be available, and the support from the Ospreys has been great," he said. "He will play this Saturday, and then get the operation done next week. It has worked out fantastically to have someone of his creative ability available - it's great news for Wales.
"Shane has a shoulder issue - I understand he was touch and go for the Magners League final [between the Ospreys and Leinster] on Saturday. He's just not right. We are losing an experienced and quality player."
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in PIctures
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year