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Home » Cricket » Hadleigh Parkes produced a magnificent display against Ireland in Six Nations Grand Slam clincher

Hadleigh Parkes produced a magnificent display against Ireland in Six Nations Grand Slam clincher

Hadleigh Parkes produced a magnificent display against Ireland in Six Nations Grand Slam clincher to show exactly why Warren Gatland was so keen to find him a role

New Zealand-born Hadleigh Parkes qualified to play for Wales on December 2, 2017. He also made his Wales debut that day and Warren Gatland never looked back.

After Jamie Roberts, an ever-present in the Welsh midfield, was deemed surplus to requirements by Gatland, the Wales head coach was left scratching his head over who should become Jonathan Davies’ long-term partner in the centre.

Gloucester’s Owen Williams was thought to be the answer, with Gatland changing tack and opting for dual playmakers for that 2017 autumn series – an experiment which ultimately flattered to deceive.

Hadleigh Parkes celebrates his second-minute try after handing Wales the perfect start to their Grand Slam decider against Ireland in Cardiff

Hadleigh Parkes celebrates his second-minute try after handing Wales the perfect start to their Grand Slam decider against Ireland in Cardiff

Hadleigh Parkes celebrates his second-minute try after handing Wales the perfect start to their Grand Slam decider against Ireland in Cardiff

Parkes crossed the line after Wales won an attacking line-out straight from kick-off

Parkes crossed the line after Wales won an attacking line-out straight from kick-off

Parkes crossed the line after Wales won an attacking line-out straight from kick-off

It is now clear to see why Gatland was so desperate to get a cap under Parkes’ belt half way through a World Cup cycle.

Just six months out from the global showpiece in Japan, Parkes might just be the most important cog in the Welsh wheel.

He was nothing short of magnificent against Ireland in the Grand Slam showdown at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

It took him just 61 seconds to latch on to Gareth Anscombe’s delicate chip and burst over the whitewash to hand Wales the initiative.

Parkes flies through the air to tackle Bundee Aki of Ireland during the match in Cardiff

Parkes flies through the air to tackle Bundee Aki of Ireland during the match in Cardiff

Parkes flies through the air to tackle Bundee Aki of Ireland during the match in Cardiff

Parkes tries to break through the Irish lines at the Principality Stadium on Saturday afternoon

Parkes tries to break through the Irish lines at the Principality Stadium on Saturday afternoon

Parkes tries to break through the Irish lines at the Principality Stadium on Saturday afternoon 

And he made an equally-telling contribution down the other end when Ireland’s wing sensation Jacob Stockdale was bearing down on the try-line before he chased him down and hauled him to the ground like a lion on a gazelle.

He is invaluable to Gatland and, at 31, he adds a wealth of nous from a decade of playing rugby across two hemispheres.

Against Ireland, he barked orders in midfield; he was always a willing runner; he never shied away from a tackle. He invariably won his collisions and his engine never seems to fail.

Wales’ Grand Slam-winning campaign has been built largely on the infallible defence Shaun Edwards has engineered and Parkes and Davies are so often their destroyers-in-chief.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones lifts the trophy after Wales completed their Grand Slam

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones lifts the trophy after Wales completed their Grand Slam

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones lifts the trophy after Wales completed their Grand Slam

Wales were in unstoppable form as they completed their fourth Grand Slam of the Six Nations era on Saturday afternoon

Wales were in unstoppable form as they completed their fourth Grand Slam of the Six Nations era on Saturday afternoon

Wales were in unstoppable form as they completed their fourth Grand Slam of the Six Nations era on Saturday afternoon

Parkes is a no-frills player, he does the simple things well and makes incredibly few mistakes. A ‘Gatland player’ in every sense of the phrase.

Launching his body into every tackle with his head bandaged, he looked every bit a cult hero.

They love him down west at the Scarlets – it’s not difficult to see why.

And, as the Principality Stadium gave him a standing ovation on Saturday when he exited the field of play, there is no doubting Wales fans have adopted him as one of their own.

 

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