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James Hook to leave the Ospreys at season's end

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 and British and Irish Lions star James Hook is to leave the Ospreys at the end of the season.

Hook, 25, told the Ospreys on Tuesday he will not re-sign, but has yet to announce which team he will join.

"After all of the recent speculation , I informed the Ospreys ... I won't be signing a new contract for next season," confirmed Hook.

"The Ospreys have been vital to my development as a professional rugby player and I can't thank them enough."

He has been linked with French club Perpignan and is believed to have received other offers.

Hook has stated he would prefer to play at fly-half, but has more regularly played centre for the Ospreys.

Versatile back Hook has also played at full-back for his region and Wales and in Lee Byrne's injury absence could don the number 15 jersey in their opening autumn Test against Australia on Saturday.

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

James Hook

"My decision to leave is no reflection on the Ospreys; the board and the management team have given me an incredible support network from the time I signed my first professional contract to now," added Hook.

"I will make a decision on where my future lies in February 2011 and I won't be making any further comment on this matter until this time.

"I felt it was only fair to the Ospreys to let them know of my intentions to leave well in advance of January 2011 so that they can find a replacement."

Hook's fly-half ambitions have been largely thwarted at the Ospreys since Dan Biggar's arrival in the top flight.

He is also down the number 10 pecking order as Wales prefer Stephen Jones in that role with Biggar as back-up.

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.

Since recovering from the operation Hook has made five Ospreys appearances and has set his sights on adding to his 43 Wales caps - 32 in the starting line-up - after making his debut against Argentina in June, 2006.

The Ospreys had hoped Hook's desire to play for Wales would be the deciding factor in him staying with the region.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made no secret that ideally he wants his players playing inside the regional structure.

But having not yet announced where he will play in future, Hook has left the way open for one of the Ospreys' Welsh rivals - Cardiff Blues, the Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons to attempt to sign him.

And unless he signs a contract with another team from the end of the 2010-11 season, Hook will be free for all of Wales' pre-2011 World Cup commitments.

That would place him in the same situation as Gavin Henson, who last week joined Saracens from the Ospreys to end his 19-month sabbatical from the game.

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.

606: DEBATE
sportabertawe

In a statement the Ospreys confirmed Hook's departure but hoped he would return to the region sometime in the future.

"We have been in negotiations with James for a number of months and had set him a deadline of today [2 November] for informing us of his intentions in order to allow us to plan as a business for the future," said the statement.

"By advising us at this early stage, it allows us to look towards the 2011/12 season and beyond with a degree of certainty when it comes to player recruitment.

"James has been a tremendous servant to the Ospreys since making his debut for the region in 2004, representing his home region with pride.

"While we now know that he will no longer be an Osprey next season, we are confident that he will continue to serve the region well between now and the end of May.

"And we hope that he will return to represent the Ospreys at some point in the future."

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see also
'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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