'Hook hasn't done himself any favours'
WARREN Gatland has suggested James Hook has disadvantaged himself by playing in France without obtaining full release for Wales — a claim that prompted the player's agent to express his disappointment.
Gatland yesterday named the former Osprey in his 35-strong national squad for the autumn series.
He then used the squad announcement to make clear his view that Hook hadn't done himself any favours by negotiating a deal with Perpignan that doesn't allow him to play in Wales's final international of the autumn, outside the IRB window.
But the player's agent Derwyn Jones hit back, claiming there were other players in the squad in the same position as Hook.
Gatland said: "I spoke to James and was honest with him. One of the frustrating things about James making the decision to go to France, and we sat down and spoke about this — I said if you're going to go to France, make sure you negotiate full release.
"We were under the impression that his agent had negotiated that, so I'm disappointed that wasn't done properly with his agent. Other players have been able to do that.
"So James has not been fully available for all training, all the Six Nations and missing that fourth game in the autumn.
"That puts him at a disadvantage to other players that are available all the time. If you are making decisions to go away you have to make sure you don't disadvantage yourself." The comments left player representative Jones less than impressed.
The former Wales lock, who looks after the interests of Dan Lydiate, Paul James and Luke Charteris, said: "I'm disappointed by Warren's comments.
"Every player-club negotiations have to be taken on merit and looked at individually, because none of them are the same. There are other players who haven't obtained full release aside from James.
"James is available for all Six Nations matches and every training session between the games. He is also available for three out of the four autumn Tests, the same as other players in the squad.
"He is desperate to play for his country and is only unavailable for one game a year. I can't see how that merits not starting him in a Test against another country for the past two years."