Judgement day for Hook
James Hook says Wales' entire Six Nations campaign will be judged on their result against Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday.
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 08/03/11 10:38pm
James Hook says Wales' entire RBS Six Nations campaign will be judged on their result against Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday.
Hook is back at fly-half after playing at centre against Italy, and knows that Wales must win to keep their slim title hopes alive.
Ireland are in a similar position so it is a classic must-win situation for both teams when they clash at the Millennium Stadium, and Hook knows just how important the result will be.
"The last two wins were good for us, but this is probably the game we will be judged on," said Hook. "It's a massive test, and we need to win. It is as simple as that.
"If we lose, it might be judged as a poor Six Nations for us, so we are just focusing on what is a huge game. If we can beat Ireland, it's important for us moving forward as a team.
"There is a lot more to come from us, I think we have been playing in bursts, but we have won the last two games. At the end of the day, it's the result that counts, and it will be the same on Saturday."
Hook's versatility has worked against him as he was switched to centre in Rome, but there is no doubt where his best position is for Wales.
"I am glad to be back in the (10) jersey," he added. "I am thankful I have got a chance to try to build something again. It's just about getting my hands on the ball.
"At full-back or outside centre you don't touch it as much, and then when you do, you maybe try to force it and make things happen. At 10, you touch the ball so many times in a game that things hopefully come naturally.
"There is always pressure, and Ireland will be a totally different challenge to Scotland and Italy - they have so much experience."
Coach Warren Gatland says Hook was worth another appearance at fly-half, and knows just how big a game it is for both teams.
"We thought James did quite well against Scotland, and it's a good chance for him to play there again. We want to give him another opportunity at 10," said Gatland.
"Stephen is disappointed, and obviously so, but he is the ultimate professional and he will be extremely positive towards the squad and towards James playing at 10."
Wales have beaten Ireland just once in Cardiff since 1983, but Gatland insists they have not been looking at form in the build-up.
"We haven't spoken about it, and I am sure the Irish haven't spoken about it. We just know it is going to be a really tough game," he said.
"Having coached here a couple of times with Ireland and had victories, I just see the away thing as not something you really focus too much on."