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Wales urged to pick James Hook at outside-half

James Hook has signed a three-year deal with French club Perpignan
James Hook has signed a three-year deal with French club Perpignan

Ex-Wales centre John Devereux believes Wales coach Warren Gatland should opt for James Hook at outside-half in the Six Nations opener against England.

Such a move would see Stephen Jones miss out, despite being seen as Wales' best number 10 in recent times.

Wales start their Six Nations campaign in Cardiff on Friday, 4 February.

"I would like to see Hooky play 10 personally - I'd put Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies at centre," Devereux told Scrum V Radio.

"The big crux for [Warren] Gatland is where he is going to fit Hook in. A lot of people are actually saying he should play at 10 and see how he goes. Can Gatland base the Six Nations on that? He hasn't got much to lose by doing that.

"But if he doesn't do that where does he play? You would imagine he would play in the centre then. But you have got Jonathan Davies who is really playing well, [and] Jamie Roberts when he is doing what he does well there is none better."

Wherever Gatland does choose Hook, Devereux insists him leaving the Ospreys for a three-year deal at Perpignan is a ''big loss'' for Wales especially if there are internationals outside the International Rugby Board window.

And Devereux hopes that Hook, who has indicated he wants to play outside-half for Perpignan, is not the first of a clutch of Wales stars who may be attracted to play in France.

In his Perpignan contract, Hook is guaranteed to be released to Wales for all pre-World Cup training and matches.

He could be one of a number of other players potentially over the next year or so who could go to France and Wales could be faced with a real dilemma in terms of having games outside the IRB window

Ex-Wales centre Jonathan Devereux

But he has no clause in his contract which guarantees release for training or playing outside of the International Rugby Board window.

"He [Hook] is a class player and I think it's a big loss obviously," said Devereux.

"He could be one of a number of other players potentially over the next year or so who could go to France and Wales could be faced with a real dilemma in terms of having games outside the IRB window."

But Devereux believes France could be a good place for Hook to go, although it could be a difficult start for him because the World Cup comes at the beginning of his contract.

"Of course it's a risk. The fact is he wants to play 10. [But] he has still got the time to go to France to learn so much. I'm sure he will come back a better player and he will still be young enough to play," added Devereux.

"He wants to play for Wales and let's face it he has done it for Wales wherever he has been asked to play, which has gone against him a bit.

"It is going to be very difficult for him because he would want to get over there [to Perpignan] do all the training with them and start the a season with them, but the World Cup is going to interfere with that.

"Who knows the new coach will try someone else [at outside-half] and it will be difficult for him depending how he does in the World Cup and where he plays in the World Cup."



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