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Feeling of unfinished business lingers for James Hook ahead of Australia game

Published 06/10/2015

James Hook is relishing the possibility of being involved in Wales' key World Cup clash against Australia on Saturday
James Hook is relishing the possibility of being involved in Wales' key World Cup clash against Australia on Saturday

James Hook has admitted to a sense of World Cup "unfinished business" after his painful experience in New Zealand four years ago.

Wales reached the semi-finals of that tournament - their best performance on a global stage since 1987 - but an agonising 9 -8 defeat against France in Auckland meant their dream ended as skipper Sam Warburton was sent off and Hook substituted just five minutes into the second period.

The Gloucester fly-half has only made four Wales starts since then, but his 80th cap could arrive on Saturday if - as looks likely - he will be involved in Wales' match-day 23 against Australia.

"Yes, there is unfinished business," said Hook, who was called into Wales' World Cup squad early last week along with Gareth Anscombe following tournament-ending injuries suffered by Scott Williams and Hallam Amos during the 28-25 Pool A victory over England.

"I was hoping to be involved in this World Cup and get out to do something. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to do that and play a positive part.

"There have been a few times when I've thought it (Test rugby) has gone away from me, but when I am with Gloucester it's about working hard for when there is hopefully an opportunity.

"We've had some pretty major injuries which have opened the door to me, but now I am here it's about getting out there, enjoying it and giving my best.

"Because I can cover so many positions, there is always an opportunity, and it took a few injuries for me to come in, but I am chuffed to be here now.

"I have been running at centre and full-back a little bit more than at outside-half.

"I am still quite familiar with those positions. It's just about getting into it and learning the calls and getting out there. I've been training well and it is no different to the last few years, and hopefully I can transfer that to a game."

Saturday's encounter is a group decider, with Australia having knocked England out last weekend and confirmed last-eight places for both themselves and Wales.

But whoever tops the pool is likely to have a quarter-final against Scotland or Japan, with the runners-up facing a potentially far tougher task in tackling twice world champions South Africa.

Australia's 33-16 success against England rightly won rave reviews, and 30-year-old Hook added: "You expected Australia to play well, but not as well as they did. A lot has been made over England being bad, but a lot of credit has to go to Australia.

"We're delighted - it was a great favour to us. It was probably the first and last time I've supported Australia. They were brilliant on the day, they have so much experience and quality in their team, so it wasn't really a surprise either.

"Momentum is huge, and the (Wales) win over England was massive. You can see the confidence in the boys since I've arrived. This is another big test this week and in the quarter-finals, and hopefully we can do something special.

"The boys spoke this morning about how much heartache we have had against Australia in the past, so we have to go in with huge motivation. Everyone is beatable, it's just about getting it right on the day."

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