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Page last updated at 10:57 GMT, Thursday, 12 June 2008 11:57 UK

Hook & Roberts switch Wales roles

Second Test venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Date: Saturday, 14 June Kick-off: 1400 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru & online

James Hook
Hook has no top-class experience in the full-back jersey

Wales have selected James Hook at full-back and Jamie Roberts at centre as they seek a spark for the second Test against South Africa in Pretoria.

The move comes at the expense of Sonny Parker, who has been struggling with an injury since last weekend's 43-17 loss.

South African-born Dragons prop Rhys Thomas is a surprise replacement for Adam Jones at tight-head.

Richard Hibbard replaces the injured Matt Rees at hooker and Gareth Delve takes Dafydd Jones' back-row spot.


Delve will start at number eight, captain Ryan Jones switching to six with Jonathan Thomas moving across to the open-side.

Blues hooker T Rhys Thomas will sit on the bench at Loftus Versfeld, having been called up this week for Rees, who injured his calf in the Bloemfontein mauling.

Wales have been put through brutal training sessions since, and delayed their team selection from Tuesday to Thursday.

The Ospreys' 26-cap fly-half Hook, who took a bang to the head in training on Monday, has no full-back experience at the highest level.

We believe we need Hook on the pitch from the start as he is too good a footballer not to be used

Wales coach Warren Gatland

He was a regular at 12 outside Jones in former Wales coach Gareth Jenkins' ill-fated reign, but the combination rarely clicked and was abandoned after the disastrous World Cup campaign, the now-injured Gavin Henson stepping in.

"We know where we were left wanting in the first Test and we have made selections aimed at improving those areas on Saturday," said coach Warren Gatland.

"We know what James Hook can do and we believe we need him on the pitch from the start as he is too good a footballer not to be used.

"He has gone well at full-back in training during some pretty intense sessions and he will be able to play a big part in the game from 15.

"Knowing how physical the South African midfield were last week, Jamie is the biggest back we had on the field so he will give us more 'go forward' in the centre position.

"All three back-row forwards we have chosen have vast experience in the positions they will play on Saturday and we believe it will give us a physical combination capable of improving our performance at the breakdown where we need to improve.

"Rhys Thomas has been working hard in training and his selection is an opportunity for him to step up against the world champions.

"Some of the combinations in this selection are new but we are very well aware of the capabilities of the boys we have chosen and we know what options they offer us.

"This week we have had to build from the disappointment of a bad defeat but our preparation over the last few days has been great and confidence is building again.

"We want to win the respect of our opponents and I am confident we have picked a side capable of earning that respect if they play to their full potential.

"We are playing the world champions on their home ground but this Welsh side is learning and developing with every game.

"As a coaching team and a squad this week we have learnt a lot of lessons about how to build from our first defeat together and that will make us stronger in the long run."

Wales team to face South Africa: James Hook (Ospreys); Mark Jones (Scarlets), Tom Shanklin (Blues), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Gareth Cooper (Gloucester); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Rhys Thomas (Dragons), Ian Gough (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, capt), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Gareth Delve (Gloucester).
Replacements: T Rhys Thomas (Blues), Duncan Jones (Ospreys), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), Warren Fury (London Irish), Andrew Bishop (Ospreys), Tom James (Blues).

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see also
Matfield returns for Springboks
12 Jun 08 |  Welsh
Delve vows to match physical Boks
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Jones out to make Pretoria amends
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Tom Shanklin's column
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Wales call Thomas after Rees blow
08 Jun 08 |  Welsh
Captain's call to wounded Wales
08 Jun 08 |  Welsh
Gatland embarrassed by Boks rout
07 Jun 08 |  Welsh
South Africa 43-17 Wales
07 Jun 08 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Mighty Boks: South African rugby
02 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Wales v South Africa: Full record
28 Sep 06 |  Rugby Union
South Africa anthem
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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