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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 11:07 GMT
NZ rate Hook in Carter's bracket
James Hook
Barry John, Steve Larkham and Dan Carter have been likened to Hook
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says New Zealand put Wales starlet James Hook in the same category as Dan Carter.

"Steve told me that James would be competing with Carter if he was in New Zealand, what a compliment," said Wales Sevens coach Dai Rees.

"Players like that are one in a generation, James is proving that good. He has had his breaks and will be a core part of Wales' squad for years."

Fly-half Carter helped New Zealand ease to a 45-10 win over Wales last week.

He is regarded as the best outside-half in the world and, like Hook, also started his career at inside centre.

If Baglan-born Ospreys star Hook has some way to go to reach Carter's elevated heights, the 21-year-old has made a stunning start to his regional and international career this year.

Dan Carter in action against Wales
Carter is the leading outside-half in world rugby

He won his first Wales cap against Argentina on the summer tour, coming off the bench to score a try.

Amidst an immediate media frenzy - the youngster being compared to Barry John and Stephen Larkham - he began the second Test at inside centre, despite never having started a regional game.

Having moved up to the Ospreys squad from Neath in the summer, he has vied with Gavin Henson, Shaun Connor and Andrew Bishop for a starting place in the west Glamorgan side, alternating between 10 and 12.

But he fired back into the public imagination after replacing injured Wales captain Stephen Jones early in the game against Australia, coming on at outside-half and inspiring a Wales fightback in the 29-29 draw.

Hook was back at inside centre against the Pacific Islanders with Ceri Sweeney at 10, but did well in his first Wales start at outside-half, against Canada.

James will place himself in a position soon where there is no way that Gareth Jenkins can leave him out

Dai Rees

Controversially there was no starting place for him against the All Blacks, but he impressed as a centre substitute.

Former Wales outside-half Gareth Davies led post-match criticism of Wales selection.

He suggested that Wales coach Gareth Jenkins had made a rod for his own back by making fly-half Stephen Jones his World Cup captain when Hook was the form man, but Rees feels that Jones should continue at 10.

"James will place himself in a position soon where he has got to be in the side and there is no way that Gareth Jenkins can leave him out," said Rees, who had Hook as the star member of his Sevens squad last season.

"With Jones as captain, initially you would look at James at 12.

"The way we play in Welsh rugby we have got to play with a guy who can release players around him and, for me, James is that man."

Ospreys v Bristol (Sat)
27 Nov 06 |  Ospreys
Jenkins has Hook plea for Ospreys
06 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union
Wales coach praises Hook coolness
04 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union


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