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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 14:04 GMT
Jones praise for Wales rival Hook
Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones has won back the Wales fly-half shirt against Italy
Date: Saturday, 23 February
Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Watch/Listen: BBC One, Radio 5 Live sports extra, Radio Wales, Radio Cymru & online

Stephen Jones is determined to make the most of his starting fly-half berth against Italy in their RBS Six Nations clash in Cardiff on Saturday.

But he admits there is little to choose between himself and rival James Hook.

"It's nice to be given the opportunity but James has performed particularly well," Jones told BBC Sport Wales.

"He was very good against England and very good against Scotland, he's a talented player and I think he's kicked 100% of his kicks."

Jones and half-back partner Dwayne Peel start against the Azzurri after impressing off the bench in the 30-15 win over Scotland, with Hook and Mike Phillips taking their places among the replacements.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has not been afraid to change a winning team, as he showed after the very first game despite Wales' first win over England at Twickenham in 20 years.


The Kiwi has selected a new starting front row and brings back wing Mark Jones despite a good debut from Jamie Roberts against Scotland.

"He (Gatland) hasn't said anything to me personally, I think he's just given me an opportunity so I'm delighted with that," Jones added.

"He's done the same with Dwayne and the guys in the front row and it's up to us to make the most of that opportunity.

"If you're a replacement you know during the working week you've got to do your homework, you've got to be prepared, you've got to know what the coach wants of you.

"So when you get your opportunity you've got to make the most of it and he's constantly hammering to us he wants his replacements to make a big impact when they come on.

"You've got to make sure you do your job, you're not going on to make up the numbers or just to fit in and cruise through the last 15 or 20 minutes.

"You want to do the best you can and he's constantly demanding high standards of everybody."

Italy have lost both their games so far but have pushed Ireland and England close, and the Azzurri beat Wales in Rome last year and drew in Cardiff the previous season.

"If you look at their game plan it's very simplistic but they are very efficient at it, stopping it is another thing," Jones said.

"They've got a very good set piece, the line-out and a heavy scrum, and two good centres who are strong runners, they play very direct."

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