“It’s obvious that I don’t fit into the coaches’ plans,” he said. “I’ve sort of got used to it – sitting on the bench and not being involved.”
Despite his versatility and creative ability as a playmaker, the 70-Test Hook has been declared surplus to requirements this summer by Wales’ coaches Warren Gatland and Rob Howley. Instead of being at the height of his international career at 27, Hook is left wondering where he stands.
“Gatland and Howley go for big players, big ball-carriers,” he said. “That’s probably why I don’t figure in their plans so I wasn’t that surprised. But I’m not going to turn my back on my country because I love playing for Wales so much.”
He has been granted precious little time to do that since starting a Test for the last time, against Australia in the third-place decider at the World Cup in October 2011.
He sat out the entire Six Nations for all but seven minutes in the first match against Ireland, eleven against Italy and four against England – a grand total of 22 minutes.
His omission by Wales from their two matches in Japan next month is an indication that the Lions have not included him on their stand-by list for Australia. Had they done so they would have wanted him match-fit to answer any emergency just as he did in South Africa four years ago when called out to replace an injured Leigh Halfpenny.
Hook’s second season at Perpignan has been a prodigious one, 110 goals from 22 matches before yesterday’s finale against Montpellier putting him third in the Top 14 list behind Jonny Wilkinson.
Hook will be given a chance to prove a point for the Barbarians against the Lions in Hong Kong on June 1. The Baa-baas have earmarked him to play at fly-half in tandem with Dimitri Yachvili of Biarritz.
Two other former Lions, England centre Mike Tindall and Wales hooker Matthew Rees, will also be lining up for the invitational team.