Rugby World Cup 2011: James Hook harbours Bok-beating belief

Rugby World Cup Pool D: South Africa v Wales

Venue:
Wellington Regional Stadium
Date:
Sunday, 11 September
Kick-off:
0930 BST
Coverage:
Live text and score updates on the BBC website, live on ITV1 and S4C, live commentary on Radio Cymru and talkSPORT radio
James Hook
James Hook takes on South Africa in Cardiff in November, 2010

James Hook says Wales can go one better and beat South Africa on Sunday if they stick to the style of play that has run the Springboks close in recent clashes.

Wales have toppled the World Cup holders only once, at the Millennium Stadium in 1999.

But Perpignan-bound Hook is confident of success in Wellington on Sunday.

"The last couple of games we've come really close to them and gone up 15-17 points in both games and let a lead slip," said Hook.

"We were obviously doing something right at the start [of those games].

"But we've just got to cancel out our errors and not give silly penalties away because obviously they've got a world class goal-kicker in Morne Steyn.

"We've just got to look at ourselves and cut out the errors."

Wales were 16-3 ahead before losing 31-34 in June 2010 and 17-9 ahead at half-time in November of the same year before going down 29-25 in Cardiff.

Hook started at centre on both those occasions and came on as a fly-half replacement for Stephen Jones when Wales lost 20-15 to the Springboks in November 2008.

Now the versatile 54-times capped 26-year-old is preparing for potential duty in a variety of positions.

Doubts over Scarlets fly-half Jones' fitness leave Hook and Rhys Priestland competing to wear the number 10 jersey on Sunday.

Hook said: "As usual leading up to selection and things you're just sort of filling in and... hopefully in the next couple of days that will become a bit clearer."

But when the action starts, lock Luke Charteris believes Wales' fitness levels will help them test Peter de Villiers' side.

The Newport Gwent Dragons captain said: "I think we are a lot fitter than we have ever been.

"Our fitness levels are really high. We know we can continue to perform for 80 minutes at real high levels, and that gives us confidence.

"The style we like to play is all-action, and there is a lot of work you have to do fitness-wise to play it.

"If boys are dropping off, that could cost you pretty badly, whether it's a lapse in defence or giving away a penalty through a stupid mistake.

"Physically, I think we are there, it is just finishing it off mentally and making sure we are primed for Sunday."

Charteris hopes to be given the chance to take on the Bakkies Botha-Victor Matfield partnership that has been the cornerstone of the Springboks' forward effort since 2003.

However, Botha could miss the clash due to injury.

Charteris added: "If we are on top of our game, then hopefully it will give them a few headaches thinking about us - that is where you want to be."

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