Hook makes shock return
June 3, 2010
James Hook starts for Wales © Getty Images
James Hook will start for Wales against South Africa on Saturday after making a last-minute plea to selectors to be allowed to play.
The Ospreys utility will wear No.13 against the Springboks before missing Tests against New Zealand to undergo shoulder surgery on a long-standing problem. The news is less positive on the wing however, with record try-scorer Shane Williams out of the tour due to a shoulder injury.
Williams' place out wide against the Boks will be taken by Leigh Halfpenny while on the other wing teenager Tom Prydie will win his second cap after becoming Wales' youngest Test player in the final game of the Six Nations against Italy. Hook joins Jamie Roberts in midfield while Stephen Jones and Mike Phillips are retained at halfback.
In the pack there are changes as Deiniol Jones returns to the second-row in place of the injured Luke Charteris, keeping Osprey Alun Wyn Jones on the bench. Paul James deputises for Gethin Jenkins after the Blues loose-head was ruled out with a calf problem.
Juan de Jongh, 22, has been promoted from the bench by the Springboks after it was confirmed that Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation for the Guinness Premiership clubs, would not permit Butch James to be released for the game, which falls outside of the IRB's designated Test window.
The Sharks' Ruan Pienaar is in at No.10, while Frans Steyn starts at fullback. Toulon No.8 Joe van Niekerk also returns from the wilderness while BJ Botha and CJ van der Linde start either side of skipper John Smit in the front-row. With the game taking place only a week after the Super 14 final, between the Bulls and Stormers, coach Peter De Villiers pledged to include overseas players with a view to the 2011 World Cup.
Despite their involvement in the finals there are also several faces from the Bulls and Stormers, with the uncapped Gio Aplon set to start on the wing and his Stormers colleague Francois Louw also set for a debut after being named in the back-row along with Bulls flanker Dewald Potgieter.
Wales: L Byrne (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Hook (Ospreys), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), T Prydie (Ospreys), S Jones (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys); P James (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), D Jones (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt)
Replacements: H Bennett (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), AW Jones (Ospreys), R McCusker (Scarlets), R Rees (Cardiff Blues), D Biggar (Ospreys), A Bishop (Ospreys)
South Africa: F Steyn (Racing Metro); G Aplon (Stormers), J Fourie (Stormers), J de Jongh (Stormers), O Ndungane (Sharks); R Pienaar (Sharks), R Januarie (Stormers), CJ van der Linde (Leinster), J Smit (Sharks), BJ Botha (Ulster), D Rossouw (Bulls), V Matfield (Bulls), F Louw (Stormers), D Potgieter (Bulls), J van Niekerk (Toulon)
Replacements: C Ralepelle (Bulls), J du Plessis (Sharks), A Hargreaves (Sharks), R Kankowski (Sharks), M Bosman (Cheetahs), Z Kirchner (Bulls), B Basson (Cheetahs)
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside
"He had a death stare so you'd know when you were wrong." George Kruis talks about his mentor Borthwick, fly-fishing and his England aspirations