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Former Wales captain comes out of retirement for James Hook testimonial

Matthew Rees

Former Wales captain comes out of retirement for James Hook testimonial

Former Wales captain Matthew Rees is about to lace his boots up one last time to celebrate the career of Ospreys legend James Hook.

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The 41-year-old former Pontypridd, Celtic Warriors, Scarlets, and Cardiff hooker who toured with the British & Irish Lions to South Africa in 2009 retired in 2019. But he has agreed to come out of retirement to play in Hook’s testimonial at The Gnoll on June 10 which will see a James Hook Select XV face a Classic Lions XV.

Rees won 60 caps for Wales, forming one part of a legendary front-row which also included props Gethin Jenkins, and Adam Jones. He captained Wales on several occasions under Warren Gatland winning two Six Nations Grand Slams, and widely considered one of the best hookers in the world.

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Rees will join the likes of fellow Welsh legends Mike Phillips, and Shane Williams in taking the field one last time. “We wanted to to do this properly for James,” said Matt Church, chief executive of Cambria Sports Group who own Neath RFC and Classic Lions.

“He’s a Welsh rugby legend and he deserves a big send off which Covid unfortunately denied him. We’ve persuaded some world class players to come out of retirement for this game, and I’m delighted Matthew Rees is one of those.

“He was a tremendous player who shared the field with James on numerous occasions, and showed amazing character to battle back from illness. It’s great to have him on board.”

Tickets are online only and can be purchased at jameshooktestimonal.com and neathrfc.com.

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