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JAMES HOOK RISING WELSH STAR

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    JAMES HOOK RISING WELSH STAR



    2007 A BIG YEAR FOR... One young Welshman may join the greats, while England's new coach and a World Cup hero are up against it, writes Rob Wildman
    <DIV =LeadPara>HE already has an eye-catching name, but this James Hook could outstrip the fantasy world of his namesake from Peter Pan, if he lives up to the talk in Wales. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>This is Hook's first full professional season and his emergence has provoked a frenzied debate in Welsh rugby circles. To some his form dictates that Gareth Jenkins, the new head coach entering his first RBS Six Nations, has to find him a position somewhere in the Welsh back line. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>When Hook came on as a substitute against Australia for Stephen Jones, the injured captain, his confident display, including a late penalty goal to clinch a draw, gained him comparisons with Barry John, no less. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Hook then scored a try against Bristol, in a recent EDF Anglo-Welsh Cup game, which evoked more memories of the 1970s hero by how he 'ghosted' through the defence. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>JPR Williams, another legendary name from the golden age of Welsh rugby, has dismissed the thinking that Hook needs more time to develop. He pointed out that himself and others, like John and Gareth Edwards, were established internationals by the time they had reached their early 20s. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"I keep hearing people saying, more than ever, that it's a young man's game and players are only going to have a limited shelf-life, so it's pretty clear the earlier they start the better,'' JPR said. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>The way forward for the versatile Hook is difficult because Jenkins has seemingly blocked off the No 10 berth to captain Jones, a trusted lieutenant from his days coaching at Llanelli. That decision leaves Hook and Gavin Henson vying for inside-centre. Other choices would be to move one of them to full-back. "The World Cup is approaching and we need to have our best players on the pitch,'' JPR has reasoned. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Hook may only have played some 20 games of full professional rugby, but he has a wealth of experience from his record-breaking season at Neath in the Welsh Premiership and his appearances for the Wales Under-21 team. Unlike some young professionals, Hook plays with his 'head up', a coaching expression to describe a player who does not have prejudged ideas. His eye for a gap and his eagerness to back himself has brought approval. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>But the pitfalls are many. Hook only has to look at the problems of Henson, who shot to fame for his role in the Grand Slam-winning team of 2005. Since then he has endured poor form and injury, plus an intense media spotlight due to a high-profile private life as partner of Charlotte Church. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Fortunately for Hook, he seems unlikely to attract the same off-field interest, though on the pitch he is exposed to the expectation of a public who will be demanding many more of those 'ghost' moments in 2007. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>BRIAN ASHTON ENGLAND EXPECTS </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>THE cynics will argue that Brian Ashton is nothing more than a short-term appointment to keep England ticking over until after the Rugby World Cup. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>So Ashton, a popular and respected coach, starts 2007 in an unenviable position. As a dedicated rugby man he views being England's head coach as the pinnacle of his career. At 60, he has had to wait for the opportunity. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>He was part of the Bath brains trust that dominated the club game and England played some of their best rugby under Sir Clive Woodward when Ashton was backs coach from 1998 to 20
    Seas suas agus troid!

    #2

    Originally posted by LLCOOLJ14
    <div>HE already has an eye-catching name</font></div>
    [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img] - quality.
    Munster - Incessant Perfervidity
    "Ireland Will Choke" - Jeremy Guscott

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      #3
      Hes a class player alright. Could be in Carters class in few years.

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