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Hook expected to stay at fly-half


James Hook

James Hook

James Hook

James Hook looks set to continue in the fly-half role when Wales resume their RBS 6 Nations campaign against Italy next week.

Hook won plaudits following a commanding display during Wales' 24-6 victory over Scotland last Saturday after he kicked 14 points and created wing Shane Williams' opening try.

It was Hook's first Test start at number 10 since the 2009 Six Nations, but such was his influence it appears unlikely that 97 times-capped Stephen Jones will be recalled for Rome.

"I thought his balance and mix of game early on when we had control of the ball was excellent," said Wales attack coach Rob Howley.

"It is very difficult when you haven't started an international there for that period of time, but we were pleased with how James went.

"He was quite critical about his own performance, which is actually good from a coach's perspective. I'm sure he will want to start at 10 again next Saturday."

Wales coach Warren Gatland made several changes the last time his team visited the Eternal City two years ago, and it almost backfired as Italy ran them close, leading by two points at half-time before going down 20-15.

Gatland though, has already indicated that will not be the case this time around, and the starting XV on duty at Murrayfield could be retained in its entirety.

Cardiff Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny, who has so far played no part in the championship because of an ankle injury, will be assessed next week, but the Italy game is too soon on the comeback trail for his fellow wing George North.

North, scorer of two tries on his Test debut against world champions South Africa in November, has been sidelined for almost 12 weeks with shoulder trouble.

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