Wales recall James Hook for November Tests
October 22, 2013
James Hook is back in the Wales frame © PA Photos
Warren Gatland has named a 35-man squad for the autumn internationals and has included James Hook after his impressive early season form.
Hook shone for his French side in both of their Heineken Cup matches and Gatland has named him alongside Scarlets' Rhys Priestland, Blues' Rhys Patchell and Ospreys' Dan Biggar as their options at fly-half. Hook has been lining up at fullback but British & Irish Lions star Leigh Halfpenny has that position sewn up so it is likely to be a four-way shootout for the fly-half spot.
Hook last started for Wales at fly-half during the 2011 World Cup and has got the nod from the outset just once since for the national side when he was named at centre for their game against the Barbarians in June 2012. But despite missing out on their summer tour to Japan, Hook has been recalled and will harbour some hope of starting at fly-half during the November series.
Elsewhere, Gatland has included Scarlets No.9 Rhodri Williams after he impressed in the early stages of the season while Mike Phillips is retained despite making the headlines recently for his reported off-field ill-discipline. Uncapped duo Cory Allen and Eli Walker are also included.
Who plays at No.10?
With Jamie Roberts sidelined, Scott Williams seems to be the favourite to take that spot after starring for the Scarlets with his team-mate Jonathan Davies likely to line-up at outside centre. Gatland has also recalled Perpignan's Luke Charteris and the Ospreys' Aaron Jarvis after they recovered from injury.
But there is no place in the squad for Alex Cuthbert who limped off during Cardiff Blues' win over Toulon at the weekend. Lions skipper Sam Warburton is named as captain.
Wales will play four Tests during November facing South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and then Australia on November 30. Despite the match against the Wallabies falling outside of the International Rugby Board's Test window, Gatland is likely to have star winger George North at his disposal alongside France-based Dan Lydiate and Roberts as their contracts reportedly have clauses included freeing them for Test duty on such occasions.
"We have an important campaign ahead as we look to test ourselves against some of the best sides in the world but also add strength in depth to our squad as we look to the future," said Gatland. "We face a huge game against South Africa first up and they will be coming to us after an impressive Rugby Championship campaign.
"Recent matches between us have been very close and physical and that will be a great test for us to kick-off. All four matches will be a stern test but we are looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to seeing what we can do on this stage.
"The Rugby World Cup is less than two years away, so we are looking to build as much depth in our squad as possible and to give vital international experience to our players."
Forwards: Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Paul James (Bath), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (CAPT - Cardiff Blues), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro)
Backs: Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Bayonne), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Patchell (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Jon Davies (Scarlets), Ashley Beck (Ospreys), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Owen Williams (Cardiff Blues), James Hook (Perpignan), George North (Northampton Saints), Eli Walker (Ospreys), Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Liam Williams (Scarlets).
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