Hook holding on to Lions dream

Tue, 09 Apr 2013 17:00
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Wales utility back James Hook refuses to give up on his British and Irish Lions dream after enduring a bittersweet Six Nations campaign.

Wales utility back James Hook refuses to give up on his British and Irish Lions dream after enduring a bittersweet Six Nations campaign.

The versatile playmaker had to make do with a place on the bench in Wales' triumphant Championship.

The door had appeared open for Hook after Rhys Priestland was ruled out of the tournament but Dan Biggar made the flyhalf jersey his own and Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies remained centres of attention.

Hook played just 24 minutes during the campaign and while he was delighted to earn a third Six Nations winners' medal, he admits he is happy to be back in Perpignan, playing regular rugby.

"It's always frustrating sitting on the bench and not playing," said Hook.

"It wasn't an ideal campaign for me but I was still part of a squad that won the Six Nations.

"The celebrations after England were a bit bittersweet for me. I was obviously thrilled for the boys, I saw how hard they all worked and the effort put in, and it was nice to get on in the last couple of minutes to feel a bit more of a part of it.

"But I'm just happy to be back playing regular rugby. This is a place where I love playing and it's nice to be back on the pitch."

While Hook had limited opportunities to show his capabilities during the Six Nations, he was instrumental in Perpignan's 30-19 victory over Toulouse last Friday.

The former Ospreys star set up two tries and kicked 15 points in an imperious display.

The Catalonian giants now return to Top14 action before facing Stade Francais in the semifinals.

"Overall we are delighted with the win," said Hook.

"We have put a big focus on this competition and it was a big test against Toulouse.

"We had to dig deep in certain parts but it was great to get the result which puts us in the semifinals.

"A big turning point was at those scrums after Dan Leo was sent-off. We were on our own line and if they had scored it might have been a different story.

"But it was a great effort from the boys, especially in those last 15 minutes with 14 men.

"I was also happy with my own performance. My kicking and running games were pretty good and I just want to build on this."

Hook's performance would also have impressed Warren Gatland ahead of the Lions tour.

Jonny Sexton, Owen Farrell and Dan Biggar are the front-runners to fill two flyhalf spots but Hook's versatility could see him taken as a utility back.

He toured South Africa four years ago and would jump at another Lions experience but would also be content touring Japan with Wales.

"I'm confident I could do a job for the Lions. I went in 2009 - I loved it then and I would love to go again but it's not my decision," added Hook.

"I don't know if it will help me but obviously I can play in those other positions.

"To go on the Lions or tour or Japan would be great but all I can do is focus on Perpignan, make sure I play well here and see what happens. I genuinely want to do well here - for the club, my family and myself."

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