Hook: World Cup woes are forgotten
James Hook insists his World Cup wobble is behind him as he prepares for a probable Test match return when Wales launch their RBS 6 Nations campaign on Sunday.
Wales wowed the rugby world in New Zealand last autumn as they achieved their best result on a global stage since 1987 and although a fourth-placed finish saw them win numerous plaudits it was not a tournament to savour for Hook.
Reflecting on the World Cup from a personal perspective, Hook said: "It was so disappointing for me and my family. I was just keen to get over to France, get back on the pitch, go game by game and sort of forget about it."
The 26-year-old missed vital goal-kicks against South Africa, semi-final opponents France and during a bronze-medal match loss to Australia, while he also suffered a shoulder injury that meant an enforced World Cup lay-off.
Hook was then unavailable for the Wallabies rematch four weeks before Christmas due to commitments in France with his new club Perpignan, but he could now find himself filling the critical fly-half role as Wales prepare for an appointment with Ireland in Dublin.
Scarlets star Rhys Priestland is battling to recover in time from a knee injury suffered on Heineken Cup duty, which has prised open the door for Hook's reappearance.
Hook added: "The semi-final was the lowest I have been after a game, without a doubt. You can't quite think straight for a while, and going out to France was the best thing for me, probably. I was bitterly disappointed. I worked so hard for what is the pinnacle of international rugby, and it didn't go well."
Wales coach Warren Gatland has delayed announcing his team for the Aviva Stadium clash until Friday, but Hook has been preparing this week with a mindset of being in the starting XV.
"I am just going about training as usual," he added. "We are not sure about the injuries just yet, but it is just the same as usual for me. It is about me training hard and playing wherever they want me.
"I am focused and always working hard in training and off the pitch. You have got to have the mindset of if you are going to be playing - it's the same for everyone in the squad. We know it is a huge game on Sunday. Ireland are a quality team, so we know we are in for a big test, but we will be working hard to try to get a win out there."