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We can beat the Springboks - Hook

James Hook was among Wales' dejected losers at Bloemfontein
James Hook was among Wales' dejected losers at Bloemfontein

Rookie full-back James Hook will go into Saturday's second Test against South Africa adamant Wales can turn the tables on the world champions.

Despite Wales having only ever recorded one victory over South Africa in previous encounters, Hook says they can reverse last weekend's 43-17 defeat.

"We can give South Africa a fright. We definitely believe we can win," said Hook, who usually plays at fly-half.

Coach Warren Gatland also denied picking Hook at full-back is a gamble.

Hook, who will make his first appearance in the number 15 jersey since his days in the Welsh Premiership with Neath, added: "If we cut out the errors and don't give them easy points then we're in with a shout.

"It could be a game to remember. We have a chance to create history and that is what has kept the boys going this week.

"We were all disappointed with the performance last weekend. We didn't play like that in the Six Nations.

"All the boys were bitterly disappointed with their performance. We conceded silly knock-ons that don't usually happen."

Gatland says defence coach Shaun Edwards has given Hook guidance and added: "I don't see this as a gamble. I see it as a great opportunity.

"It's a chance to look at depth in the squad and to find out about a few players. I want to know how we'll respond mentally to what happened last week.

606: DEBATE
"There will be a lot of speculation about full-back but we felt we needed to find a way to get James Hook on the park and we decided 15 was the best place.

"James is such a talented footballer, he's great at kicking out of hand and gives us another goal-kicking option. He'll have more time and space at full-back in terms of attacking.

"There were a few times against South Africa in the first Test when we could have counter-attacked but didn't.

"James has a license to bring the ball back. There's not a huge amount of expectation on him as he'll be playing his first game at 15."

Hook has been coming to terms with his new role during training this week and Gatland insisted he has the skills to make a successful transition.

When you're a top quality fly-half you tend to know where full-backs stand

Warren Gatland
"James has practised at full-back and now knows how much running is involved. It's a great chance for him," he said.

"Shaun has done some defensive work with James and also been looking at his lines of running.

"Positionally there's a bit of work for him to do but when you're a top quality fly-half you tend to know where full-backs stand because that's part of your kicking game.

"We expect him to slot in there comfortably."


see also
Tom Shanklin's column
13 Jun 08 |  Welsh
Tom Shanklin's column
09 Jun 08 |  Welsh
South Africa 43-17 Wales
07 Jun 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
07 Aug 07 |  Wales
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment


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