Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Howley talks up Hogg

Stuart Hogg beat off strong competition to earn a place in the British and Irish Lions squad
Stuart Hogg beat off strong competition to earn a place in the British and Irish Lions squad

British and Irish Lions backs coach Rob Howley would have no qualms playing Stuart Hogg at fly-half on the summer tour because of the Scotland full-back's "creative X-factor".

Hogg was selected ahead of James Hook and Billy Twelvetrees to be the Lions' utility back, given he has played at outside centre this season for Glasgow and was a fly-half at junior level. The 20-year-old has never played in the position for Glasgow but will provide the fly-half back-up to Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell on the 10-match Lions tour.

"James Hook was called up in 2009 as a utility player and we discussed Billy Twelvetrees, who was in the mix, but we have been so impressed with Stuart Hogg in terms of his playing 15 and 13 with Glasgow and we think he has that ability to play 10," said Howley.

"One thing about the Lions is you give players that opportunity and you just don't know. Stuart is a utility player who has a creative X-factor about him."

The Lions opted for a utility back as their third fly-half because they wanted to give Sexton and Farrell as much preparation time as possible before the Test series.

"You need the 10s to have game time. It is so important for a 10 to have time in combination with the scrum half as well," Howley said.

"If you have another 10 you are possibly taking time away from the two 10s who have been selected. That was a key discussion.

"It will mean them backing up (from Saturday to midweek games) and maybe Stuart Hogg will be stepping into that position."

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