James Hook has revealed that he would play anywhere for the Ospreys if it meant he was doing his bit for the team.
The 24-year old, who has played the majority of his rugby for the Ospreys at 10, has been the subject of intense scrutiny amongst the media and supporters since he was switched to centre earlier this season by the coaching team, allowing them to play him outside teenage outside half Dan Biggar. With three games together under their belts now, and the Ospreys unbeaten during that time, Hook says that he is enjoying his rugby:
“At the moment, in fairness to Dan, he’s playing well at 10 and I’m doing alright at 12 as well. At the end of the day, I can say where I’d prefer to play, but I’m not in a position where I can tell the coaches where to pick me. If they want to pick me at 12, then I’m happy to do that job and I’ll do it to the best of my ability. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture; you’ve got to do what’s best for the team. Every player has a favourite position, yes mine is outside half, but I’m not the first person to be asked to try something for the sake of the team and I won’t be the last. I’ve been picked at 12 for the last couple of games and I think it’s going well, I’m enjoying playing there.
“Dan has taken his opportunity and deserves to have the number 10 shirt at the moment. At the end of the day, I’m still playing, I’m in the team and I’m making a contribution. I think I’ve been playing quite well and we seem to be putting a decent partnership together. Being honest, I’m just happy to be playing, and not twiddling my thumbs on the side. I’d play anywhere if it means I’m playing and it helps the team out. It’s a long season, there are lots of games still to be played, and maybe I’ll get another chance at 10. If I do, it’s up to me to take the opportunities and make it difficult for the coaches to pick Dan ahead of me. If I don’t, we know what the result will be and I can’t grumble about it.
“I’m not in a position where I can say I want to play 10 or nothing, that’s not my style anyway. The team comes first and I’m happy to be able do my bit at 12. I’ve spoken about the decision with the coaches and I know the reasoning behind it, so I just want to get my head down and do my best for the Ospreys, wherever I’m picked. At the moment, I think it’s going well for the Ospreys and it’s going well for me.”
Reports over the last few weeks have also seen Hook linked with a move to France, but he is quick to play down any speculation, reiterating how happy he is with the region. With his first child due before Christmas, he says that personal reasons, as well as professional, mean that he won’t be moving across the English Channel anytime soon:
“I can’t stress enough that I’m happy here, I’ve grown up here, and been a part of this region since I was a youngster, and it’s a great place to be. I’m looking forward to a big step in my life in December with Kim, with my first child on the way. That’s enough to focus me on my priorities in life.
“It’s nice to know that clubs are interested, it means that I must be doing something right, but I’m an Osprey and I’m happy where I am. It’s all just speculation though at the end of the day, and I’m not going to go to the directors and say I want to go anywhere. I’m under contract here for another two years, so even if I were interested there’d be nothing I could do about it! When the right time comes to sit down and talk with them about a new contract I will, I’ll just deal with that when it comes.
“You can’t worry too much about what gets written, or allow it to bother you. People who know me, know that I’m under contract and I’m happy being where I want to be, and they realise that it’s all paper talk. If anyone else asks me am I going to France, I just tell them exactly the same thing. I’m going nowhere. If I’m honest, it’s not just about the Ospreys, I’ve also got international hopes and ambitions, and I don’t know where a move to France would leave me, it could well be the end of my Wales career if I went there and I don’t want that.”
Having left Welford Road with two points following a see-saw 32-32 draw with Guinness Premiership champions Leicester Tigers on Sunday, Hook admits that there are mixed emotions about the outcome of the match, but insists that there are plenty of positives to take into this Sunday’s game, when French T14 leaders Clermont Auvergne come to the Liberty Stadium (KO 12.45pm). He said:
“Of course we are disappointed not to have held onto the lead, but we have to look at the positives, and we would have taken two points before the game. We’re got one more point on the board than we did at this stage last year, and we’ve also benefited from being able to stop them getting full points. After one game last year we had just the one point and they had four, so we were three points behind and we still went through. At the moment, we are just one point behind them, and we have a massive game against Clermont Auvergne coming up. If we can win that one then I think we’re in a great position ahead of the next set of fixtures.
“It’s going to be very tough though, we know that, hopefully there will be a big crowd there to help us. The crowd at Welford Road was unbelievable, the last 20 minutes they really lifted their team and made a difference, they were awesome. That’s what players like, myself and other players here want to play in front of big crowds every game, when you have the support of a passionate, packed stadium it brings the best out of you. We know that we’ve got a job to do and we have to keep putting the performances in to get the crowd coming in regularly, but it’s important that they come on Sunday and give us their support as every little thing will make a big difference against such a good side.”