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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Hook hailed as 'new Barry John'
James Hook
Hook has yet to start a regional game for the Ospreys
Rising Wales star James Hook - who makes his first international start on Saturday - has been compared to Wales and Lions fly-half legend Barry John.

The comment was made by his regional coach Lyn Jones - who has yet to give the 21-year-old an Ospreys start.

"He reminds me of Barry John, he glides over the top of the ground, holds the ball in two hands, avoids defenders and uses his runners," Jones told the BBC.

"He attacks the line, defends well, has speed and also a big kicking game."

We have to be more clinical and finish off the moves

James Hook

Neath outside-half Hook gets his chance in the second Test with Argentina after just two substitute appearances for the Ospreys and an impressive, try-scoring display from the bench against the Pumas on Sunday.

He came on at inside centre in place of the injured Matthew Watkins, and now keeps the Scarlets man on the bench with Nicky Robinson retaining the number 10 jersey.

Barry John
Barry John is regarded as one of the all-time great fly-halves

"Sunday's game has given me confidence, but I know it's going to be very physical from the start this week," Hook told BBC Sport Wales.

"I've had some great direction off [Wales coach] Gareth Jenkins and [attack coach] Nigel Davies, and there are experienced players around me.

"Last week we cut the line nine or 10 times in the backs, but this time we have to be more clinical and finish off the moves.

It could be a blessing in disguise that he's making his full debut at 12

Lyn Jones

"It's weird playing for Wales without having started for the Ospreys, but I've been so busy this year with Wales Sevens, Wales Under-21s and Neath that I haven't really thought about it.

"Although I usually play at 10 I have some experience at 12 with Neath - but Buenos Aires is going to be a completely different environment!"

Jones has no doubt that the youngster can cope with the pressure and the unfamiliar position.

"I was proud and delighted to see him playing for Wales and have no worries about him starting," said Jones.

Picking a fly-half at inside centre increases our running options

Gareth Thomas on James Hook

"He's like Gavin Henson and a lot of other modern players in that he can play a lot of positions.

"He's played a lot at 12 for Neath. [Former Wales coach] Scott Johnson had the idea of trying him there with Arwel Thomas at outside-half.

"In the future we'll see a lot more of him at 10 and he'll be very good there.

"But there's no doubt that 12 is an easier position than 10 and it could be a blessing in disguise that he's making his full debut there, it'll be good for him."


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