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Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Fly-half desire fuels Hook decision to leave Ospreys

James Hook tries to evade Perpignan's clutches in 2009 in the Heineken Cup
James Hook tries to evade Perpignan's clutches in 2009 in the Heineken Cup

Wales fly-half great Phil Bennett believes James Hook's decision to leave the Ospreys is because of his desire to be the "star man" at number 10.

Hook revealed on Tuesday that he will not be extending his current Ospreys contract amid growing links to a move to French giants Perpignan next summer.

He is behind Dan Biggar in the Ospreys' fly-half pecking order and is forced to play at centre for the Welsh region.

"James Hook really wants to be the number 10," Bennett told BBC Sport.

Hook has become Welsh rugby's 'Mr Versatile' as the Ospreys play him at outside centre while the 25-year-old has also featured at full-back for Wales as cover for injured Lee Byrne.

And it is in that position where Hook is expected to play for Wales in their autumn Test opener against Australia on Saturday at the Millennium Stadium.

But Hook has often spoken of his ultimate desire to play at his favoured fly-half role, where he has played for Ospreys, Wales and the British and Irish Lions, to offer serious competition for established Wales number 10 Stephen Jones.

Ospreys coach Scott Johnson, though, continues to operate Hook at centre while Biggar is their number one fly-half.

And Hook is also behind Biggar in the fly-half thinking for country as well as club.

So Hook, the supremely talented elusive back, has informed the Magners League champions that he will leave the Liberty Stadium when his contract expires next summer.

"I think deep down his heart now he believes he is experienced and mature enough to be the number 10," British and Irish Lions Bennett told BBC Sport.

"James has had to move with Wales and the Ospreys into the centre or sometimes to full-back and has become a bit of a utility player.

"I think he wants to be the star man. When you look at the recent great international teams, who is their star men? For New Zealand it's Dan Carter and Matt Giteau and Quade Cooper for Australia.

"Unfortunately, there have been a few games where he [Hook] hasn't shown composure for the Ospreys at number 10, where he can really control a game, so they've decided to go with Daniel Biggar.

"And it is the prime position and and perhaps moving away is a bigger factor than perhaps the financial side of it."

Hook has not revealed which club he is to join when he leaves the Ospreys next summer but has been linked with Perpignan and is believed to have received other offers.

I will make a decision on where my future lies in February 2011

James Hook

Hook made his Ospreys debut while a Neath player in the 2004-05 season and became a full squad member for the 2006-07 season.

Hook played through the pain barrier for much of last season, but pulled out of Wales' two-Test tour of New Zealand in June 2010 to undergo shoulder surgery.

But after returning to fitness and starring for the Ospreys this season, he is expected to make his 44th Wales cap against the Wallabies in Cardiff on Saturday.

And Bennett concluded that he does not believe a move will improve the player.

"I don't think it will improve his rugby," said BBC pundit Bennett. "James Hook is talented enough for me."

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see also
Wales star Hook to leave Ospreys
02 Nov 10 |  Ospreys
'Delighted' Henson joins Saracens
28 Oct 10 |  Saracens
Hook 'may have to leave Ospreys'
05 Oct 09 |  Ospreys
Hook to decide on Ospreys future
13 Oct 10 |  Ospreys
Hook asks to be Ospreys' fly-half
18 Sep 09 |  Welsh
Hook hailed as 'new Barry John'
15 Jun 06 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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