James Hook defends Welsh players' transfers to France

James Hook

Fly-half James Hook says the "positives outweigh the negatives" when Welsh players make big-money moves to France.

Hook, 27, acknowledged his Test career has suffered since his 2011 transfer from the Ospreys to Perpignan.

But he believes the incentives outweigh the drawbacks, saying: "You can't blame any player for coming over."

Leading Welsh players Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate are expected to join Racing Metro after next month's British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

Lydiate, 25, has already spoken about his move, though it is yet to be confirmed, and former Ospreys man Hook says anyone blaming players for accepting the "great deals" on offer in France's Top 14 "isn't being realistic".

"It's a loss for the Welsh regions, but as a player and individual you can't blame them," said the 70-times capped Hook.

"There are so many positives - they outweigh the negatives by a heck of a lot."

Hook could be in opposition to Roberts and Lydiate when the Barbarians take on the Lions in Hong Kong on Saturday, 1 June.

Before that he is set to face England at Twickenham on Saturday, 25 May, having been overlooked by the Lions and omitted from Wales' two-Test June trip to Japan.

However, Hook continues to harbour international ambitions, having made five Wales replacement appearances in 2012-13 and seven starts the previous season.

He added: "Of course, I haven't written that [Wales] off at all. I've been wanting to be part of it for the last couple of years I haven't started for them.

"It's no different now and it won't be any different to the day I retire. People know how I play and what I can do."

Hook is now focused on ending his season with Barbarians success.

He said: "It's the end of a long season and I'll just go out there and try to do my best for the players in the squad."

And next season he is looking forward to Perpignan's Heineken Cup campaign.

France earned an extra place following Toulon's win over Clermont Auvergne in this year's final.

And the previous night, Leinster took the automatic Amlin Challenge Cup winners' place at Stade Francais' expense.

A Stade win would have seen them knock Perpignan out of the running for Europe's premier club competition next season, but Hook was grateful for Leinster's win.

"The Heineken Cup for a club like Perpignan is massive and we want to be in the best competition in club rugby," said Hook.

"We're there next season and all the boys are thrilled and excited about it."

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