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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 08:41 GMT
Hook could oust Jones - Jenkins
Wales fly-half rivals James Hook and Stephen Jones
Hook and Jones look set to battle for the Wales number 10 jersey
Wales coach Gareth Jenkins says he will have no hesitation in selecting James Hook at fly-half ahead of captain Stephen Jones at the World Cup.

Hook scored 22 points in Jones' absence against England on Saturday, and Jenkins said: "He has certainly done his chances no harm at all.

"He is a star, there's no doubt about that. He's so talented and relaxed.

"Stephen Jones is the captain, but his role doesn't necessarily mean he has got to be in the team."

Jenkins added: "If you are the captain of a squad, you are the conduit between the players and the coach.

"The importance of the relationship I need to have with the captain is huge and he is a barometer of how the squad is feeling and reacting.

There was a bit of pressure on me and I wanted to go out there put in a good performance

James Hook

"The squad has got to identify with that player strongly. Stephen is doing a great job in that role and I am comfortable he will be captain through to the World Cup.

"But I have said all along the captaincy doesn't guarantee you a place in the team. I'd be a fool not to understand that.

"If Stephen is not playing well enough or I feel someone else is playing better on the day I will make selection choices and accommodate that."

A wrist injury to Jones gave Hook the opportunity to make the move from inside centre to fly-half that many fans and pundits had wanted to see.

And, as happened in November's draw over Australia, the 21-year-old made the most of his opportunity by delivering an outstanding display.

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Hook scored the opening try after two minutes and landed four penalties, a conversion and a drop goal to equal Neil Jenkins' record of 22 points in a Test against England.

"It was a great day," said Hook, who had to wear the wrong contact lens for the final 20 minutes after the lens in his right eye fell out.

"It meant a lot to me. There was a bit of pressure on me and I wanted to go out there put in a good performance.

"In fairness, the pack worked extremely well and gave a good platform for the backs and we worked off that."

Jones looked below his best as Wales lost their first four games, but Hook insisted he believes the Llanelli Scarlets general is still the best fly-half in Wales.

"Stephen Jones is a fantastic player and in my eyes he is still the Wales outside-half," said Hook, who dodged the question of which is his preferred position.

"And as long as I'm on the pitch, I'm more than happy."

What we've got are two very talented outside-halves, which is a great place to be

Gareth Jenkins

The Wales coaching staff felt Hook would need more time to experience the challenges of Test rugby at inside centre before taking on the full-time fly-half duties - the same path New Zealand's Dan Carter took.

But Jenkins now has a huge selection dilemma as he prepares for the World Cup, with former Wales and Lions fly-half Barry John among those convinced that Hook is the man for the fly-half role.

Jenkins, though, says now is not the time to announce who is Wales' first-choice fly-half.

"What we must not do now is make a summer of who is best, Stephen or James," said Jenkins.

"What we've got are two very talented outside-halves, which is a great place to be.

"We might not have the same sort of depth at 12 so there's balancing we have to accommodate for.

"Performances are dependant on a number of factors, one of which is how your forwards go and how much possession you're getting.

"As it was on Saturday, our pack was outstanding - it was their best performance by a long way.

"Our backline benefited from that and James reacted positively to that."




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