James Hook joins Wales squad after Dan Biggar injury

Gloucester outside-half called up for Fiji and New Zealand matches

By Gareth Llewellyn

James Hook has been called up by Warren Gatland to the Wales squad for the next two matches of the Dove Men Series.

The 29-year-old Gloucester outside-half had initially been a surprise omission from the 34-man squad as the Wales head coach opted to select just Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland for the 10 jersey, but Biggar’s groin injury has caused Gatland to rethink his plans.

“Hook will link up with the squad tomorrow when they gather to prepare for Saturday’s clash against Fiji,” read a Welsh Rugby Union statement. “No players have been released from the squad.”

Scarlets outside-half Priestland took over from Biggar at the Millennium Stadium yesterday, and Hook, who has 76 caps, could be in line to start against Fiji and New Zealand on the next two Saturdays if Gatland opts to hold back Priestland for the final match against South Africa.

It also leaves Gatland with a shortage of options at 10 should there be further injuries, with inexperienced Leicester Tigers outside-half Owen Williams, as well as Hook and Bath’s Gavin Henson, unavailable for the final match of the series against South Africa on 29 November as the match falls outside of the IRB Test window.

The news comes on the day it was confirmed that Cardiff Blues outside-half Rhys Patchell will be out for two months with a hamstring injury, which could also prompt an early introduction of Gareth Anscombe, the New Zealand-born outside-half/full-back who arrived this month from Super Rugby’s Chiefs franchise at the conclusion of his ITM Cup commitments with Auckland.

Should Gatland call up Anscombe, it would be a dramatic inclusion with the Wales qualified back not expected to make his Guinness PRO12 debut for the Blues until 23 November in Edinburgh.

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