Hook reverts to centre
February 22, 2011
James Hook returns to the Wales midfield © Getty Images
James Hook returns to the Wales midfield for their Six Nations showdown with Italy on Saturday as the result of an injury to Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies.
In the only change from their victory over Scotland two weeks ago Hook shifts to outside-centre, the position he filled during last year's Championship, to win his 50th cap, with Stephen Jones recalled at fly-half.
Davies picked up a hamstring problem at Murrayfield and with Tom Shanklin, Andrew Bishop and Gavin Henson all sidelined with injuries, Hook's pursuit of the No.10 jersey has again been derailed by his admirable versatility.
"Our hand has been forced in the back line, Jonathan is simply not ready this weekend after struggling with his hamstring since the Scotland game," attack coach Rob Howley said. "The obvious decision then is to move James into the centre where he has done well in partnership with Jamie [Roberts].
"Bringing Stephen in at fly-half is a great luxury to have. He was hurting after the England game, he will be looking forward to getting back out there and we are very happy to have that option available to us.
"James wins his 50th cap and we all know what a valuable player he is to this team and what a great servant he has been to Welsh rugby already at just 26 years of age."
There is a boost to Wales on the bench, where Cardiff Blues winger Leigh Halfpenny makes his comeback from injury, taking Jones' place among the replacements.
Wales: L Byrne (Ospreys); M Stoddart (Scarlets), J Hook (Ospreys), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), 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), R Priestland (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin