Gatland denies Hook at full-back is a gamble

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The Independent Online

Warren Gatland yesterday denied he had taken a gamble by selecting James Hook at full-back in his Wales side for tomorrow's second Test against South Africa.

Hook, traditionally a fly-half or centre, has not played in the position for either Wales or the Ospreys, yet has been hurled in at the deep end against the world champions. The 22-year-old's only experience in the No 15 jersey was a couple of outings with Neath as a semi-professional three years ago.

It is a bold selection that also sees Jamie Roberts played out of position, the Cardiff Blue moving from full-back to inside centre for his third cap. The changes will be viewed as a risk by some but Gatland said he was not panicking in response to last Saturday's 43-17 defeat to the Springboks. "I don't see this as a gamble, I see it as a great opportunity," the Kiwi said. "It's a chance to look at depth in the squad and to find out about a few players. I want to know how we'll respond mentally to what happened last week.

"There will be a lot of speculation about full-back but we felt we needed to find a way to get James Hook on the park and we decided 15 was the best place."

Elsewhere, the Scotland coach Frank Hadden has loaded his team with Edinburgh players for tomorrow's Test against Argentina to give the recalled stand-off Phil Godman every chance of making a key contribution.

Edinburgh provide 10 players for Hadden's starting XV, including new recruit Chris Paterson who is moved from full-back to the right wing following last weekend's 21-15 defeat in Rosario. Hugo Southwell, Simon Webster and Phil Godman are the three Edinburgh players called into the side, with Glasgow Warriors open-side flanker John Barclay joining them as Hadden makes four personnel changes.

"The key change is the stand-off Phil Godman," Hadden said. "He has been playing consistently well for some time and that is the most important selection factor. He has been playing at his best, putting pressure to have this opportunity. It makes sense to surround him with familiar faces."

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