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International call-up not on Hook’s mind

With injury concerns over a number of Welshmen, James Hook’s performances in Aviva Premiership Rugby in recent weeks are a timely reminder of what he can offer his country ahead of the Six Nations.

However, the Gloucester Rugby back insists a potential call-up by Warren Gatland is not on his mind as he looks to help the Cherry & Whites secure a top-six finish in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season.

Hook was initially left out of Wales’ World Cup squad before receiving a late call-up due to a number of injuries, going on to appear three times in the tournament. 

Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams and Hallam Amos are among those who are battling to be fit in time for next month’s Six Nations, so Hook’s kicking masterclass in the 27-14 victory over London Irish on Saturday – when he recorded 17 points from the tee – showed off one of the strings to his bow.

“I still want to get into the Six Nations squad – it is the same answer every time,” the 30-year-old said.

“I am always available for my country but it is not up to me, it is up to the management to decide if they think I am good enough or if they want to have me involved.

“I have experienced it a lot now and I am just concentrating on Gloucester. I know people often say that sort of thing but I really am just focussing on Gloucester.

“If something comes along with Wales then fantastic but if not, then I will just carry on working at Gloucester.”

London Irish were leading 14-6 at half-time at Kingsholm at the weekend before Hook helped the hosts record 21 unanswered points, with the 81-capped Welshman bagging five penalties and a conversion during the 80 minutes.

But Hook may have to wait for his next chance to shine from the tee, with Greig Laidlaw expected to return to the XV at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

“Greig should be kicking again this week,” Hook said. “Last season he showed what a great kicker he is so if he plays then he is probably first choice kicker.

“We have some excellent kickers in the team so if Greig is unable to kick or not play then it is up to the other boys to step up when they get the opportunity.

“It was a bit twitchy coming in at half time against Irish but we showed the courage and determination to put in a good performance in the second half and that – and the performance against Harlequins – gives us good confidence going into the game with Exeter.”

Boxing Day Sale! Click here to grab a bargain with 20% off tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May at Twickenham. 

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