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Hook set to make Gloucester move

Wales star James Hook's move to Aviva Premiership club Gloucester will be confirmed on Tuesday, Press Association Sport understands.

Gloucester have called a late-afternoon press conference at The Vale Resort - Wales' training base - where he is currently preparing with the national squad for a two-Test South Africa tour.

Wales head to Springbok territory on Thursday, by which time 28-year-old Hook will, it is understood, have become Gloucester's latest big-name recruit for next season, joining fellow new arrivals like his Test squad colleague Richard Hibbard, Scotland international half-back Greig Laidlaw and New Zealand prop John Afoa.

Fly-half Hook, who has won 75 caps, signed a new long-term deal with French club Perpignan last September, but their subsequent relegation from the Top 14 activated a release clause in his contract.

Hook can expect to fill the number 10 shirt at Kingsholm, replacing Leicester-bound England international Freddie Burns.

Wales, meanwhile, have delivered a positive fitness bulletin on three players - prop Samson Lee, hooker Ken Owens and centre Jamie Roberts - after they went off injured during last Friday's senior trial match in Swansea.

"We think they will all be training later on in the week, even Samson Lee," Wales assistant coach and defence specialist Shaun Edwards said on Monday.

"He had a positive scan, and we will re-assess him later in the week. I've spoken to him, and he seems pretty positive in himself.

"At first, we feared the worst with Samson. We thought he had possibly broken his arm.

"If somebody as tough as Samson Lee comes off with his arm wrapped up like it was, I feared the worst, but it is positive news. He has not broken his arm or his wrist.

"Ken had quite a nasty bang on his knee. We feel he will be training later in the week, and he will be doing more physio. Jamie was precautionary, really, with his shoulder."

Wales' opening Test against South Africa in Durban on June 14 launches a demanding run of games.

They meet the Springboks again in Nelspruit seven days later, before South Africa arrive at the Millennium Stadium in November, along with world champions New Zealand and Australia, and then Wales kick off their 2015 RBS 6 Nations campaign at home to England next February.

"We've had a game (trial match), and the boys will feel more confident going into the first Test," Edwards added.

"It's a mammoth task, probably the toughest place to play rugby in the world, physically. We remember the 2009 Lions Tests there, and also the first Test in 2008, when we (Wales) went over.

"They certainly caught us with their physicality in that first Test. But in the second Test, I thought we did exceptionally well and pushed the Springboks very, very close. We can't be caught on the hop, and that's the reason we had that game (trial match).

"It is an outstanding South Africa squad, as usual. Personally, I think it is the best team they've had since the 2007 World Cup."

A potential problem area for Wales head coach Warren Gatland on the tour could be openside flanker, with specialist sevens Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric both absent through injuries.

Regular Test blindside Dan Lydiate is one option, although he has had little game-time in recent weeks with his club Racing Metro, while Scarlets forward Aaron Shingler did the job impressively when he lined up for the Probables in last week's trial.

"He (Lydiate) probably needs a bit of a run-out before then (first Test)," Edwards said.

"Whether he is involved in the first game (Eastern Province Kings on June 10), I am not sure. We will decide that later.

"But to give him confidence, I think it would help him to have a little bit of game-time. Dan Lydiate is an integral part of our team. Maybe we would even take a chance with him without playing in that game.

"We have incurred serious injuries in two top-class performers on the flanks, who obviously can't come on tour.

"Normally, we are very blessed in that area with two outstanding sevens. It is a concern, of course it is, but I thought Aaron Shingler played particularly well on Friday, and there are other people putting their hands up."


From Belfast Telegraph