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Quitting Wales was not an option for fly-half James Hook

By Andrew Baldock

James Hook says that he has never contemplated walking away from Test rugby - despite making just two starts for Wales since the last World Cup.

Gloucester fly-half Hook, though, admits that if he features in Wales head coach Warren Gatland's final squad for the England-hosted global spectacle that starts next month, it would "probably mean more" to him than his 2007 and 2011 World Cup selections.

Hook will start in the No 10 shirt against opening World Cup warm-up opponents Ireland on Saturday, winning his 78th cap, and it represents a golden opportunity for the free-spirited talent.

Hook, 30, started Wales' 2011 World Cup bronze medal match against Australia in Auckland, but only two more full Test appearances have followed.

"I never thought of packing it in," he said. "It does get tough, but when you see your mates out there you realise what a great atmosphere there is. You never want to turn your back on that.

"You are disappointed to miss out, but that only drives you on to work that little bit harder.

"The build-up to the previous World Cup, you knew in the back of your head that if you keep fit you are probably going to go.

"This time, you are not certain and you work that little bit harder. It does drive you on, and will probably mean more to me than the previous two World Cups."

Gatland said: "Part of the reason why James hasn't had a frequent place is the decision he made to go to Perpignan.

"He moved to Gloucester and wasn't playing well, but really improved his form. It's a great chance for him on Saturday."

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