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Hook to retire

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dr_martinov View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13 January 2020 at 6:48pm
I think James Hook deserves a thread to himself. Hook is to retire at the end of this season, The 34-year-old played 81 times for Wales and toured with the 2009 British and Irish Lions in South Africa.


Hook was a key player in the Wales squad for close to a decade for me, even if he went in and out of contention and always had that enigmatic "utility back" label or question of where to play him best. Yes, in part this was because he couldn't hold down the no. 10 jersey at club or country but this also should be great credit to his versatility and all round rugby skills. He was seen as the anti-Stevo by many and so perhaps hyped into something he wasn't - even if he could have been - but that shouldn't detract from what he was, which was a bloody good player. Didn't quite fit the Gatland mould and so maybe we'll always wonder but I for one think he's had a fantastic career and he always gave his best with some moments of magic. I also thank him for that performance when he took England apart.
"We're thrown to the wolves in the minds of our enemies." - unknown philosopher.
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Dic Penderyn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dic Penderyn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 January 2020 at 8:04pm
A great player whose talent was matched only by his modesty..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GPR - Rochester Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 January 2020 at 8:38am
Too good a rugby player for Gatland. 
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miaow View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote miaow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 January 2020 at 3:53pm
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Edited by miaow - 14 January 2020 at 4:07pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote miaow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 January 2020 at 4:05pm
Originally posted by miaow miaow wrote:

Good player, good man, but got left behind by the way the game changed in the late 00s. The rugby league style coaching that came in didn't help him at all. Hook was an old school 10 who took the ball diagonally at an angle and then decided what to do. He didn't suit the formulaic structures, didn't suit vertical/straight line running and a crashball 12, didn't suit being an off the cuff distributor with a pod system and lines of attack. He was a jinker with good footwork, a great handoff, and an eye for a gap, but that basically disappeared in about a season or two not long after he won his first Wales caps.

Apart from when he first broke through in 06/07, he played his best rugby for Wales at 13 for me in 2010ish, before the 13 became a key defensive position than Foxy excelled in. That extra bit of space and his ability to link up with Shane and Byrne while adding a kicking option was where he looked good. He could run at defences without the pressure of being first receiver. He was decent as a 12 as well, but never a 15. Francois Steyn's try against us in the 2011 RWC is basically the perfect demonstration of why he wasn't a 15.

Still had a decent career but had he come along 10 years earlier or 10 years later he might have had a much much consistently successful one. A victim of the way rugby transitioned and modernised really quickly unfortunately, but still had a very solid career with lots of caps, Lions tours, and stints in France and England.

Hope the writing goes well for him.
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dr_martinov View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr_martinov Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 January 2020 at 5:50pm
Fair comments. I also remember thinking the 13 worked but this was only 1 or 2 games and there were always questions defensively. I think Hook's lateral movement was too much an issue in the centre, maybe less apparent at 13 but still there. He did play 12 for the Ospreys loads next to Biggar but as you say his style was maybe 5/10 years too late and he got right in the peak crash ball centre, pods of forwards bosh running stuff, which didn't really fit his style. While he may have got exposed at 15 he was also useful for the arial ping pong back in the day before modern up and unders. Still though, really high all-round skill set and think he's had a great career. I can see him being skills/passing coach somewhere and the author plan is certainly an interesting one! He comes across as a genuinely nice down to earth guy as well.
"We're thrown to the wolves in the minds of our enemies." - unknown philosopher.
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