Ospreys Rugby are delighted to announce that James Hook has signed a deal that will see him returning to his home region at the end of this season.
The 31-year old Ospreys centurion has signed a three-year contract and will head back to the Liberty Stadium six years after leaving to experience life in the Top 14 with Perpignan.
The second highest points scorer in Ospreys history, Hook moved to Gloucester in the summer of 2014, and is currently in his third season at Kingsholm.
Speaking about his return to the Ospreys, Hook couldn’t hide his excitement:
“I’m delighted to be going back home next summer.” he said.
“It’s been fantastic to go away to new places, get some unbelievable experiences in England and France with two great clubs, but I’m coming home to a team that’s going places, with good coaches who I know well and a quality squad with some world class players and really exciting young talent.
“It’s good for me personally, as a rugby player, and it’s the right thing for my family, to be coming home.”
Capped 81 times by Wales, Hook has seen it all as a player at the top level, from Magners League titles at the Ospreys, to Grand Slams, Lions tours and, at Gloucester, success in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, but he admits to always holding out for the day he would report back to Llandarcy Academy of Sport for training.
“I always planned, or hoped, that I’d come back but six years is a long time” continued Hook.
“A lot has changed in that time and anything could have happened. I’m grateful, and fortunate, that I’m getting this opportunity.
“It’s important I finish well at Gloucester. It’s a great club with some great people involved and they’ve been really good to me. I’ve enjoyed my time with the club and I want to end on a high there to say thank you for that, before I can focus on the new challenge at the Ospreys.”
Having left the Ospreys as a 25-year old, Hook will return as a different person and a different player and he says he is looking forward to finding himself a senior play at the region:
“Since I left I’ve experienced two different leagues, different environments and cultures. There’s been ups and downs as there always will be, but I’d say that I’m older and wiser now, a better person definitely and hopefully a better player.
“I realise that perhaps I’ll have a different kind of role in the squad next season than the last time I was here. I’ve spoken to Steve about how much I’m looking forward to using the experience I’ve gained in England and France, and with Wales, to help the youngsters as much as I can.
“Saying that, I don’t think I’m finished yet. I’m only 31, I’m playing week in, week out with Gloucester and I think I’ve got plenty to give on the field for a few years to come.
“The Ospreys are ambitious, they are creating strength in depth, and that suits me.”
Steve Tandy has hailed James Hook as “an exceptional talent” after it was confirmed that the former Osprey is returning home to the Liberty Stadium next season.
Hook played 107 times for his home region between 2004 and 2011, becoming the 15th Ospreys centurion four months before he moved on.
A double Grand Slam winner with Wales and his country’s fourth highest international points scorer ever, Hook’s pedigree is unquestionable, and the Ospreys Head Coach is in no doubt about the importance of this signing.
“For us to be able to add a player of James’ calibre to the squad is fantastic” Tandy said.
“Having him available next season will obviously increase our strength in depth in the backline, which is crucial if we want to be successful.
“We’ve seen this season that you can never have too much depth. We’ve seen Dan and Sam away contesting for a Wales shirt over the last month and that’s likely to be the case for some time going forward.
“The beauty of James is he can, and does, play to an exceptionally high standard in so many different positions. There’ll definitely be a number of different roles for him within the squad.
“As an experienced international he will provide good competition and support for the two 10s, but not only that, he is capable of playing 12, 13 and 15 to the very highest level. He’s really comfortable with that, which is why he’s such a great signing for us and we’re really happy to have him here.”
With the last of his international appearances coming more than a year ago, Hook is likely to be an influential presence in the environment at the times of year when the Ospreys are regularly stripped of so much experience, something which is a key factor in him being brought home.
“We know that he’s likely to be around for most of the season which is why he is such an important acquisition” stressed Tandy.
“The experience he’s gained over the last six years since he left the Ospreys, playing in England and France, is only going to benefit us.
“He’s an exceptional talent, incredibly versatile, and a goal kicker of the highest standard who has experienced big moments in big games right around the world. He’s a good character as well, with the right attitude, who will be a positive influence in the squad. Not only will his presence mean increased competition, I’m expecting his experience to rub off on those around him.
“He’s got a great skillset, we know what he can do, and he’s really competitive about coming here and playing regularly. When you look at the clubs he’s been at, the experience he’s gained, you can only learn from that. It’s like Paul James, he went away and came back a different animal. He experienced something different and returned a better rugby player.
“That’s the case with Hooky as well and the great thing is that he’s coming home with so much to offer our environment.”
The signing of James Hook comes just a day after the Ospreys’ newest Wales international, Sam Davies, signed a new contract, while Justin Tipuric, Dan Baker and Dan Lydiate (NDC) have also recommitted in recent weeks.