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.”
As well as James Hook signing for next season, Sam Davies, Dan Baker, Justin Tipuric and Dan Lydiate (NDC) have all committed their future to the Ospreys over the last month.