|Six Nations: Wales v Ireland|
|Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 14:45 GMT|
In his latest six-nations column, Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes talks about his bloodied face while they overcome Scotland, finding form and a long-term rival he will meet again on Saturday.
I’ve got seven or eight stitches above my head on to remind me of Saturday’s barbarous match – although you can find just two or three profound ones inside too let’s call it 10.
It was actually Alun Wyn Jones who achieved it to me plus it probably improves my appearances that a wee bit. He also got four stitches in the very top of the head. I liked the white headband with red running down my face – it’s really a fantastic appearance.
The swelling died down just a tiny bit which is good. But it is the first time that I’ve had stitches in a long time. I think six boys also have had places of stitches after Scotland and the majority of these were from taking out each other. Carnage.
My cauliflower ear from the England match took a second celebration in my first contact so I had to possess this emptied again after the match and that I had to use this protective headband wrapped over it and my stitches on back the plane again.
Some players go through their lives, their whole livelihood, never playing in a semi-final or a final and this sounds just similar to this final mentality. For us, that is how we look at it.
We’re developing against a very hard opposition. It has number two against number three in the earth. But this excites me.
For all of us the equation is easy. We win, we win. If we lose we’re likely completing third because if we lose you’d need to back England to be fired up against Scotland.
It would be amazing for every one involved. For the backroom team that are involved in their last Six Nations effort – those coaches have been around for 10 or even 11 years, so it’ll be psychological to them.
Looking for an 80-minute display
I believe we’ve put in some great 40s from the tournament so far. In Paris we place in a good second half. Back in Rome we’re so so, nonetheless it was a triumph and that is exactly what you are after.
England I presumed we were in control for the whole match. I am aware England were ahead at half-time, but the atmosphere on the area and in the changing room was that we’re in charge of the match.
It’s probably the best performance across the whole 80 – well almost the whole 80, I imagine. The 2nd half has been some of the finest Rugby we’ve playedwith.
And then on the weekend against Scotlandwe were good in the early 40 and then we did not want to shield the guide, but that is exactly what we wound up doing. A good defensive display and then holding them out.
Get stuck into Ireland, be worried about the Worldcup after
This is definitely an wonderful environment at the moment. I have said before in this column there are no cliques in the squad and most of us enjoy investing in the hard yards over the practice pitch.
The coaches and the players are getting along too. There is contest for places too, that puts big strain on the players that are starting, but then also you are helping one another to improve because of that when another guys get their chance they will certainly be better for this.
Let us not get too far in front of ourselves. The World Cup is a fairly major cherry at the end of the season isn’t it?
But you can not go into that believing we will do well only because we’ve won four games in the Six Nations.
It’s knock-out footy and anyone can triumph once you get to the knock-out stages. Quarter-final, semi-final, final… whatever the tournament is. . It doesn’t matter – any team can win a knock-out game. That is sport.
Who deals with the pressure best, who takes the ability which comes just once a match? That is exactly what this Saturday is for all of us and for Ireland.
Let us get stuck in these boys on Saturday and fret about the worldcup later.
Training in Fullthrottle
Monday was a bit of a day – we’ve had a tough eight weeks of contact. You are bumping into some pretty big boys in the England, Italy, France and Scotland squads.
We were straight back to contact on Tuesday and by Thursday we’ll be flying, which is really where you would like to become.
The England match was somewhat different because we’re running right into them, yet this time around they were running and it is really a tiny bit tougher to be the ones doing the handling.
You’ve got to do full contact in practice differently you can get yourself a false sense of security. Doing things in walking pace or non-contact you can tell your self”Yeah, I’d have him stopped that in contact” and it may not be correct.
Therefore Tuesday’s practice was full pace, full contact. Some players need it and think it’s great too. There exists a balancing act, however I think it’s fantastic to have somewhat in there.
Renewing rivalries with Aki
I am super pleased for him with the way it’s gone since he came up to Ireland. He is a go to man for them together with go-forward ball. He carries well, but adheres well also.
It’s going to be a difficult challenge, but it’s exciting because we know one another so well. Hopefully after I will have the bragging rights !