Amlin Challenge Cup
Mermoz looks to Hook for inside info
ESPNscrum Staff
November 15, 2011
Wales fullback James Hook kicks a penalty, Wales v South Africa, Rugby World Cup 2011, Wellington, New Zealand, September 11, 2011
James Hook has shone for Perpignan since his arrival from the Ospreys © Getty Images

French centre Maxime Mermoz is looking to new recruit James Hook for inspiration ahead of their Amlin Challenge Cup clash with the Newport Gwent-Dragons on Thursday.

Hook collected the man-of-the-match award following their opening 15-12 win over the Exeter Chiefs and Mermoz hopes the 26-year-old will be able to give them inside information on Thursday's opponents.

"James made his debut for us and really shone against Exeter," said Mermoz. "He had better give us a few tips about our Welsh opponents now that he wears our jersey and I have no concerns whatsoever about his commitment towards the team.

"During the first week of training with him it was brilliant. Whether it is in attack or in defence he is fully committed and I am sure he will be eager to do well for his new club against a Welsh team.

"The Dragons are a very good club with a number of Welsh internationals and for the away game against them on Thursday night we will have to show plenty of aggression because they are a very physical side.

"But we must also be fully disciplined because the Welsh offer a superb attacking game and we will have to be sound in defence. With players like Toby Faletau and Lloyd Burns they are loaded with power and experience, because those guys came back from the World Cup in which they performed brilliantly."

Perpignan are currently eighth in the Top 14 with four wins from their first ten matches and Mermoz is looking to the returning internationals to give them a boost ahead of their clash with the Dragons.

"We take heart at Perpignan at how the return of our internationals rekindled the dynamics within the group so I imagine that it is the same with the Dragons and it must have given them a massive boost to have them back," Mermoz said. "They bring more confidence and with their high standards they will pull their team-mates to the top.

"Playing in the Amlin Challenge Cup at first might not sound as exciting as the Heineken Cup but then when you realise the level of the teams involved, including big French clubs, it is definitely an exciting and challenging tournament.

"Part of our objectives are to be successful in the Amlin Challenge Cup and to go through to the Heineken Cup next season. We have two ways to achieve that, through our domestic championship or by winning this tournament and the best scenario for us would be to lift the trophy which is always good for your club record."

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