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Page last updated at 07:26 GMT, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Terry Holmes wants James Hook & Richie Rees combination

James Hook on the attack against Australia in 2010
James Hook takes on the Wallabies in Wales' 25-16 defeat

Legendary Wales scrum-half Terry Holmes believes Warren Gatland should drop half-backs Mike Phillips and Stephen Jones for Richie Rees and James Hook.

Holmes has said that Phillips is off-form and that Hook has the edge over veteran Jones in attack for the weekend's clash with South Africa.

Phillips and Jones linked up in Wales' 25-16 loss to Australia last Saturday.

"I think Richie's in good form at the moment and James Hook does offer you a different proposition," said Holmes.

Hook began the game against the Australians at full-back and moved to centre late on.

But Holmes believes the player who has also seen fellow Osprey Dan Biggar steal a march at regional and Test level at number 10 should play in the pivotal role for his country.

Lewis points to Byrne's return

Hook last week announced he will leave the Ospreys at the end of the season but has yet to settle on which club to join and in which country.

But Holmes feels Gatland should at least ensure Hook is given a chance to impress in his favoured fly-half position.

"I think he [Gatland] could make those changes," added Holmes. "There are three games left [in November], he'll try and get his best combination out for the New Zealand game.

"He's tried Stephen and Mike. Mike doesn't seem to be on best form at the moment and Stephen - he's been a magnificent servant, but I just think we need a bit more threat there at 10 and I think James could give us that.

"So I think it would be a good time to try a different combination."

After the world champion Springboks, Wales face Fiji on Friday 19 November and then host New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on 27 November.

Holmes is delighted at the prospect of Lee Byrne returning from a hand injury to don the number 15 jersey against the injury-hit Springboks.

Terry Holmes succeeded Gareth Edwards as Wales scrum-half
Terry Holmes succeeded Gareth Edwards as Wales scrum-half

That would give Gatland the option of employing Hook's attacking skills in midfield or in the number 10 jersey he is known to covet.

But Holmes, an ex-dual-code international and highly respected successor to Gareth Edwards for Cardiff and Wales, said he also hopes two more absentees, Jamie Roberts and Gavin Henson, will return to ease the team's attacking problems.

Roberts is recovering from wrist surgery and is expected back in action in December while Henson's return to the field depends on how he fares in BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

He is combining that task with Saracens training after ending his 19-month sabbatical from the game by joining the Aviva Premiership club from the Ospreys.

Henson finished second in another reality television show, 71 Degrees North, and Holmes hopes he can repeat the commitment shown in that venture on his return to rugby.

"I think we suffered a bit through injuries with Jamie Roberts being out and hopefully Gavin Henson, if he shows the same commitment [as he did] to 71 Degrees North, he's going to be a threat again.

Gavin Henson, if he shows the same commitment [as he did] to 71 degrees North, he's going to be a threat again

Terry Holmes

"But at the moment it would be fantastic news to get Lee Byrne there, but I would still like to see James Hook at 10.

"I think that's where he could operate best and benefit the Welsh team."

Holmes also joined the chorus of approval for Wales' forward effort against the Wallabies, but underlined his belief that Gatland must seek to improve his side's attacking play.

"I think the set-piece went okay [against Australia]. The scrum was obviously very good, but I think in attack we need to find some different combinations.

"We didn't really threaten them that much. They game's changing at breathtaking speed all the time.

"You've got to come up with different attacking options and we just need a bit more creativity there."


Wales squad:

Forwards: Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Paul James (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), John Yapp (Blues), Scott Andrews (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Deiniol Jones (Blues), Ian Gough (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues), Martyn Williams (Blues), Andy Powell (Wasps).

Backs: Michael Phillips (Ospreys), Richard Rees (Blues), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), James Hook (Ospreys), Andrew Bishop (Ospreys), Tom Shanklin (Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys), Will Harries (Dragons), George North (Scarlets), Lee Byrne (Ospreys), Tom Prydie (Ospreys), Chris Czekaj (Blues), Aled Brew (Dragons).

Helping with Wales training: Andy Powell (Wasps), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Dafydd Hewitt (Blues).

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see also
South Africa pick Steyn at centre
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Gatland rues costly Wales errors
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Wales 16-25 Australia
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Ireland 21-23 South Africa
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Fly-half desire 'fuels' Hook move
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Mighty Boks: South African rugby
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Wales rugby results archive
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Wales' rugby fixtures
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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