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Hook set for Perpignan stint

Wales international James Hook has confirmed he will join French club Perpignan next season.

The Ospreys centre has agreed a three-year deal and he will move to France during the summer.

The 25-year-old, who has won 47 caps and is a key member of Wales' RBS 6 Nations squad, announced before Christmas that he would be leaving the Ospreys at the end of this season.

It is understood that Hook's Perpignan contract guarantees he will be released for all pre-World Cup training with Wales and games later this year.

Perpignan, Heineken Cup quarter-finalists this term, are set to make Hook possibly the highest-paid player in Welsh rugby history, with his deal expected to exceed £1 million over three years.

The Catalan club's former players include New Zealand superstar Dan Carter, while their current squad features French internationals like David Marty, Maxime Mermoz and Nicolas Mas.

Hook follows the likes of English trio Jonny Wilkinson, Tom Palmer and James Haskell into French club rugby, and treads a path taken by his current Wales colleague Stephen Jones, who played for Clermont Auvergne a few years ago before rejoining the Scarlets.

Hook, a member of the 2009 British and Irish Lions squad in South Africa, is expected to feature in the Wales starting line-up against Six Nations rivals England on Friday week.

He said: "I have played there (Perpignan) with the Ospreys, and it is a great place to play. It is a huge decision, it is not just me involved, it is my fiancee Kim and my little boy Harrison as well. Obviously, it is a rugby decision as well, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

"I spoke to Stephen Jones and also (Scotland international) Nathan Hines, who played for Perpignan. They could not speak highly enough about playing out there, and I took all that on board."


From Belfast Telegraph