Hook eager to take his chance
Published 09/02/2011 | 08:02
James Hook admits "it all starts on Saturday" in his quest to become Wales fly-half throughout the RBS 6 Nations Championship and World Cup.
Ospreys star Hook has been handed the number 10 shirt for Wales' Murrayfield appointment with Scotland this weekend. It will be his first Wales appearance in that position since the 2009 Six Nations, with 96 times-capped Stephen Jones dropping to the bench.
"Playing outside-half, there is going to be pressure," said the 25-year-old, who wins his 49th cap. "But I have confidence in myself to go out there and do the best I can. I am going to try to nail down that shirt - it all starts on Saturday."
He added: "I have total confidence about playing there. It's just that I haven't started in the position for a long time.
"I have been selected, and now I have to get my head down and try to come up with a performance. We just have to believe in ourselves and not let outside influences affect us too much. We have to get our own house in order and focus on getting that win we need."
Hook's switch of positions impacts elsewhere, as Lee Byrne is recalled in the full-back role his Ospreys colleague filled against England last week. One change up-front sees Ryan Jones featuring instead of injured number eight Andy Powell.
Wales coach Warren Gatland admits the pressure will be on his team in Edinburgh, a city where Wales have triumphed just three times during the past 20 year.
Wales, the 2005 and 2008 Six Nations Grand Slam champions, have not won a Test match since last season's tournament when they beat Italy in Cardiff. Gatland, who has a Welsh Rugby Union contract that incorporates the 2015 World Cup, received backing from WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis on Tuesday.
He said: "We are in a professional sport, and you've got to realise it is about performing and getting results. You've got to take the criticism on board.
"At the end of the day, we are ultimately responsible for those mistakes. Yes, we are under pressure to perform and get results - that's what professional sport is about. We are under a lot of pressure, aren't we?"