Wales can approach Saturday’s crunch clash against Ireland with confidence and the result will go a long way to determining their hopes of winning the Six Nations, according to James Hook.
There was plenty of encouragement for Wayne Pivac in his first match as head coach as Josh Adams’ hat-trick inspired Wales to a dominant 42-0 win over Italy at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
A trip to Dublin to face Ireland, who themselves have a new man at the helm in the form of Andy Farrell, is sure to provide an altogether sterner challenge for the defending champions.
Ireland started their own campaign with a tense 19-12 beating of Scotland and Wales great Hook, who earned 81 caps and played in three Rugby World Cups for his country, is backing Pivac’s men to flourish.
Speaking to Omnisport, the versatile Ospreys back said: “It’s obviously going to be a much bigger test.
“Ireland at home are always strong anyway. They’ve got some experience there, we know they’re powerful, especially at the 22 line so they’ll test Wales there.
“But I think Wales will be full of confidence, they’re enjoying playing under the new coaches, it seems to be quite a relaxed environment so I think the boys will thrive and give it a good go.”
Hook, who won the Six Nations three times with Wales including Grand Slam triumphs in 2008 and 2012, says the result will provide a strong indicator of where the team is at in terms of their championship aspirations.
“I think they’ve obviously had a great start,” he added. “But this is going to be a big Test out in Dublin and it will go a long way to seeing how we go in the championship.
“We’ve got plenty of confidence. It’s going to be a much bigger test and after the weekend we’ll know where we are.”
THE HAT-TRICK FROM HENDY
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 4, 2020
Last month, Hook announced he will end a professional career that started in 2004 playing for Neath at the end of the Pro14 season.
Hook has played top-tier rugby in Wales, England and France – having also represented Perpignan and Gloucester in a distinguished career – and plans to continue working in the game.
The 34-year-old also has a new career venture, though, with the release of a series of children’s books based around a young player’s dreams to forge a top-level rugby career.
Hook was inspired by a visit to a book fair with his son Harrison and the opening title of the series, ‘Chasing a Rugby Dream: Kick Off’, will be released at the start of July.
“I’ve got a few things going on. I’m hoping to do a bit of coaching, I’m just trying to sort a few things out with that,” he said.
“Obviously, I’ve got the books stuff going on, the children’s books, which I’m enjoying doing at the moment.
“I’m just trying to finish the season strong personally, then looking forward to the next chapter and going into post-rugby.”
Expanding further on the books, Hook said: “It was a couple of years ago in Gloucester, my eldest boy Harrison wanted a children’s book and there was a book fair at his school and he couldn’t find a good rugby book, there wasn’t any sort of children’s rugby books there.
“So, I just came up with a few ideas based on my rugby career and just my life basically and put that into a story through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy.
“I got in touch with an author from Swansea who I know has written children’s books and it went from there.
“It was an idea that came from there, then we wrote the book together, got in touch with a publisher, he liked what he saw, and he gave us a series.”
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