Wales gamble on Hook at fly-half
February 8, 2011
James Hook will start at fly-half against Scotland © Getty Images
James Hook has been handed the fly-half jersey for Wales' Six Nations showdown against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The Perpignan-bound playmaker started last Friday's 26-19 loss to England at fullback but has been given the chance to influence their fortunes at first-receiver for the first time since since the 2009 Six Nations.
Stephen Jones drops to the bench after taking a limited role in training this week due to a knock suffered against England
"James has a real opportunity to show what a quality player he is," Wales head coach Warren Gatland said.
"There is a certain amount of risk involved as he has not started a game at fly-half this season, but the decision was made easier considering Stephen has been limited in what he can do in the early part of this week after the bump he picked up early on against England."
Lee Byrne reclaims the fullback berth and former skipper Ryan Jones takes over from the injured Andy Powell at No.8.
"The forwards were in a battle last week, but there were plenty of things that went right and we want them to go up to Murrayfield and give it a shot," forwards coach Robin McBryde said.
"Our front five was an asset in the autumn and Craig Mitchell has come in and done well and helped give us a platform off the scrum and lineout. We have talked about better execution and accuracy but largely we want the same again from the forwards with Ryan [Jones] coming back into the mix as well.
"Ryan has shown his true character after some setbacks in terms of selection and playing in different areas of the pack and he has come out on top."
Wing Morgan Stoddart has been named despite breaking his hand against England, but he faces further fitness checks later this week. On the bench, a sore hip sidelines scrum-half Dwayne Peel, so there is an opportunity for Scarlets youngster Tavis Knoyle, while uncapped Scarlets flanker Josh Turnbull also features. Wales, without a win in their last eight Tests, have beaten Scotland at Murrayfield just three times during the past 20 years.
Wales: L Byrne (Ospreys); M Stoddart (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Ospreys); J Hook (Ospreys), M Phillips (Ospreys); P James (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets, capt), C Mitchell (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys)
Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), T Knoyle (Scarlets), S Jones (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September