x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

James Hook to play at fly-half for Wales

Wales coach Warren Gatland to risk moving James Hook from full-back to fly-half position in Six Nations clash with Scotland.

Warren Gatland is ready to risk James Hook at fly-half for Wales in Saturday's Six Nations clash against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Hook, 25, moves from full-back, where he started in the 26-19 loss to England last week, and wears the Wales No 10 shirt for the first time since the 2009 Six Nation.

He replaces the 96 times-capped Stephen Jones, who drops to the bench after playing a limited part in training this week after taking a bump to his neck during the England game.

"James has a real opportunity to show what a quality player he is," Gatland, the Wales head coach, said. "There is a certain amount of risk involved as he has not started a game at fly-half this season."

Lee Byrne reclaims the full-back berth and Ryan Jones, the former Wales captain, takes over at No 8 from the injured Andy Powell.

"The forwards were in a battle last week, but there were plenty of things that went right and we want them to go up to Murrayfield and give it a shot," Robin McBryde, the Wales forwards coach, said.

France full-back Clement Poitrenaud was the only change to the line-up for the biggest game of the weekend, Sunday's match against Ireland in Dublin. He replaces the injured Maxime Mermoz with Damien Traille switching back to centre.

France began their title defence in style at Stade de France on Saturday, beating Scotland 34-21.

Alastair Kellock, the Scotland captain, has defended Euan Murray after the tighthead prop's contribution at the scrum came under scrutiny in the defeat to France. "Euan can only play as well as the rest of the pack. They're going to put pressure through the tighthead - every team will try to," Kellock said. "We've got to make sure we're helping him out.

"It wasn't on Euan - it was on all of us. We were all very upset with the way the scrum went."

Elsewhere, Richie McCaw, the New Zealand and Canterbury Crusaders captain, will miss the first month of the Super 15 Rugby season after fracturing a bone in his foot.

The 30-year-old openside flanker, who sustained the stress fracture to the fifth metatarsal on his right foot during a fitness test last Monday, has been booked in for surgery and will be out for six weeks.