James Hook has given both the Ospreys and Walesa pre-season boost by declaring he should be fit to return to action by the end of September.
That will mean the 25-year-old utility back could be ready to fire when the Ospreys’ Heineken Cup campaign kicks-off in October and be in contention for the Wales’ four Test Autumn Series assignment the following month.
Hook played for the Ospreys in their Grand Final triumph over Leinsterin Dublinat the end of May and then faced the world champion Springboks with Walesthe following weekend before calling an end to his season. That meant he missed the two-Test tour of New Zealand.
Instead of heading Down Under the 2009 British & Irish Lion underwent surgery on his troublesome shoulder and is now three weeks into his recovery. The early signs are very encouraging and the physios are predicting he will be back in action by the end of September.
“I want to carry the momentum I built up in the second half of the season into next season. That's the reason I decided to have the operation done early and to miss the tour,” explained Hook.
“If I'd gone to New Zealand then I would probably be talking about October or even November before I could return. I'll miss the first few games of the season but, from what I’m being told, it looks as though I could be back at the end of September, which isn't so bad.
“I don't want to rush back unnecessarily and I'll follow the advice I’m given and make sure I've got it right before I return. At least doing it this way I can be back, pretty fit and raring to go after missing just a few games.”
Having helped his side win the Magners League title for the third time at the end of May, Hook is now casting his eyes further afield and challenging even harder in the Heineken Cup. The Ospreys have reached the quarter-finals in the last three seasons.
“The Heineken Cup will be on us before we know it and I'd like to be able to get a few games under my belt before then,” added Hook.
"The injury didn't really stop me doing what I had to on the pitch, but it did mean I couldn't do what the rest of the boys were doing in training – the weights and all that stuff. I could play okay, but if I got caught the wrong way I'd really feel it.
“I'm glad that I carried on playing through to the end of the season. I think I did pretty well at the back end, the team played some good stuff and we got our reward with the Magners League title.
“But the operation needed to be done. This is the first summer I haven't gone away to play rugby since 2006.
“After the Lions tour last summer I was straight back into it and I was involved in the first game of the season in Connacht. So it's good to get something like a rugby free summer – if a bit strange.
“With a World Cup coming up next year, it's important to be fresh for that if I want to be in contention, so the timing of the op is probably right for me all ways.”