James Hook (rugby union)
|Birth name||James William Hook|
|Date of birth||27 June 1985|
|Place of birth||Port Talbot, Wales|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight||15 st 2 lb; 212 lb (96 kg)|
|School||Central Junior School
Glan Afan Comprehensive School, Port Talbot
|Notable relative(s)||Mike Hook (brother) and Naidine (sister)|
|Spouse||Kim Tashara 2011–|
|Children||Harrison James William Hook|
|Rugby union career|
Jimmy Hook's strengths as a player include good distribution skills, great tactical awareness, and reliable goal kicking, but his popularity in Wales is largely also due to his exciting running style, which is a traditional facet of Welsh fly-half play. This has led to comparisons with New Zealand star Dan Carter and legendary countryman Barry John, who himself hailed Hook as "a real star of the future". Hook is Wales fourth highest all-time points scorer behind Neil Jenkins, Stephen Jones and Leigh Halfpenny.
Early and personal life
Hook's childhood heroes were Neil Jenkins and Robert Jones – Jenkins because of his kicking ability, and Jones because he played in Hook's favourite position, which was scrum-half, the position he himself played for West Wales at the age of ten.
In June 2011, he married long-term partner Kimberley. In 2004 Kimberley was in the U17 Welsh Netball Squad. The couple have a son, born at on 23 December 2009.
In 2014, Hook announced that Kimberley was pregnant with their second child.
At senior level and before making the step up to regional rugby with the Ospreys, Hook enjoyed great success for Neath RFC, becoming the record holder for the highest individual points tally within a season. He also played for Neath College as a youngster.
Hook played his way into the Ospreys first XV in the 2006–07 Magners League season, giving outstanding performances at both fly-half and inside centre. He kicked a conversion in a Pool 3 match against the Sale Sharks during the 2006-07 Heineken Cup, clinching the Ospreys win following a try from Shane Williams.
In November 2010 it was announced that Hook would not be signing a new contract with the Ospreys. On 26 January 2011 James announced that he would be joining French Top 14 side USA Perpignan on a 3-year deal for the 2011–12 season despite warnings from Wales' national coach Warren Gatland that he may not consider players based outside Wales in his future squads.
After excelling at under-21 level for Wales, Hook starred for the Welsh sevens team, scoring a match-winning try to defeat South Africa Sevens in the plate final of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Hook made his international debut against Argentina under new Welsh coach Gareth Jenkins, scoring a late try in the match.
Hook made his home debut for Wales against Australia on 4 November 2006 as a substitute for the injured Stephen Jones. He showed great composure in scoring 13 points as Wales drew the match 29–29 and was named as Wales' Man of the Match. Hook played against the Pacific Islands, scoring a try, and against Canada where he scored 16 points.
During the 2007 Six Nations Championship, Hook played in all of Wales's games, but was hampered by being employed at inside centre, rather than in his preferred position of fly-half for the first four matches. As a result, he struggled to make an impact. In the final game against England, however, he was finally switched to fly-half and produced a Man of the Match-winning performance, scoring 22 points in Wales' 27–18 win. He also completed his first "full house" in this match (scoring a drop goal, penalty, try and conversion). The victory was Wales' first over a 'Tier One' rugby nation since the 2006 Six Nations Championship victory over Scotland.
Hook put in a man-of-the-match performance as he helped Wales beat England 26–19 in the first game of the 2008 Six Nations Championship on 2 February 2008.
On 10 February 2008, Hook was selected at fly-half for the 30–15 win over Scotland in the 2008 Six Nations Championship. Hook scored a try and kicked two conversions and a penalty, before being replaced by Stephen Jones in the 58th minute.
In May 2009, Hook was included in the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa. He was called into the squad as a utility back to cover his Wales team mate, Leigh Halfpenny, who was forced to withdraw from the beginning of the tour with a thigh injury. He made his British and Irish Lions debut on 3 June, playing against the Lions Super Rugby team. Hook came off the bench in that game to score one try and kick 3 conversions. He did not however play in a test match on the tour.
In 2010, Hook was selected to the Wales 2010 Six Nations Championship team, playing for the first time at outside centre.
In January 2011 Hook confirmed he would join French side Perpignan on a three-year contract from the start of the 2011–12 season. His contract guaranteed availability for all of Wales's 2011 Rugby World Cup preparatory games. However, there is no clause covering future release outside of the normal International Rugby Board window.
- "HOOK HANDED CHANCE TO SHINE". www.sportinglife.com. 2007-01-20. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Kimmage, Paul (15 April 2007). "'It seems crazy. This time last year I was playing semi-professional rugby'". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- "James Hook to leave the Ospreys at season's end". BBC Sport. 2 November 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
- "James Hook to leave Ospreys and join Perpignan handing Wales a problem". the Guardian.
- "Hook confirms Perpignan contract". BBC News. 26 January 2011.
- "Wales international back James Hook leaves USA Perpignan for Gloucester Rugby". Gloucester Rugby. 2 June 2014.
- "Wales verstatile back James Hook makes sensational return to the Ospreys". Sky Sports. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- "BBC Sport – Rugby Union – James Hook confirms Perpignan contract". bbc.co.uk.