THE DUEL between James Hook and Dan Biggar for Wales’ coveted No 10 jersey is yet to be decided, former fly half ace Neil Jenkins has revealed.
The country’s record international points scorer will have a say in who gets the nod to start at outside half against Ireland next week.
But the former Pontypridd, Cardiff and Celtic Warriors maestro, who is Wales kicking coach, admitted it’s a battle royal that’s going down to the wire.
Perpignan star Hook – recovering from a chest injury – has been largely out of favour with Wales, certainly at ten, since he was given his big chance in their pivotal and agonising 2011 World Cup semi-final defeat to France.
Biggar has been a yo-yo man in the Wales squad since making his debut at the age of 19 against Canada in 2009 having consistently failed to get a run in the team.
He was given an excellent opportunity to shine in the autumn but some roughhouse rucking by Samoa in their shock 26-19 victory in Cardiff was yet another blow to his international career.
The Osprey had to leave the field just before the interval with a shoulder injury.
But with Rhys Priestland, who could do no wrong despite a series of dodgy performances, currently out of the picture with a ruptured Achilles tendon, one of them could now make the jersey their own.
Jenkins also hopes the pair will challenge Ireland’s Johnny Sexton, as well as England’s Owen Farrell and Toby Flood, as the three current frontrunners to make the Lions tour of Australia at outside half.
“Hookie’s had a bang in the last couple of weeks and hasn’t had much game time but he is obviously a class act and we know what he is all about,” he said.
“I think Dan’s had an outstanding season, he has been playing exceptionally well for the Ospreys – he’s still a young kid but he seems to be maturing every year.”
Jenkins, who won 87 caps for Wales between 1991 and 2003, added: “And he’s certainly matured a great deal, we feel, over the last year or so.
“It’s going to be a great battle between the two of them – the shirt is up for grabs, obviously with Rhys being out injured. I think it’s all about who turns up and who fronts up and trains well will get the nod.
“Both are exceptionally talented players. I think we are quite lucky to have them battling it out for that shirt.”