World Cup warm-up: Wales v England
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 17 August Kick-off: 14:15 BST

In his latest BBC Sport column, Wales centre explains how he consoled team-mate and old friend Gareth Anscombe after the fly-half’s World Cup-ending injury.

Gareth Anscombe is a good mate of mine and I’m absolutely gutted for him, his wife Milica and his family that he’s been ruled out of the World Cup because of injury.

He’s been playing really well, had a great Six Nations and he was going well against England at Twickenham on the weekend.

It’s heartbreaking for him.

We were optimistic after the game it wouldn’t be too serious and, after the bus dropped us off at our hotel in the Vale of Glamorgan, I drove him home. You don’t want a car crash when your knee’s like that!

So I dropped him home on the Sunday night with some ice, gave him a call on the Monday morning and he told me he’d had some bad news from the scan. I was gutted for him.

Luckily when I called him I was at the supermarket so I bought him some chocolate and crisps. Over the next few months he’ll have skinny little legs and a pot belly!

Also, he’s my room-mate. Every trip, he’s always been my room-mate. We know each other really well and we’ve known each other a long time, so hopefully it’s a speedy recovery for him.

It can happen to anybody. It’s a very physical sport and unfortunately that’s the danger of . I think he did it sidestepping or something like that, something quite small.

He came in to the Vale on Wednesday morning to see the boys and the management team. He’s a pretty cheerful guy and a bit of a joker as well, so I’m sure he’ll be back and forth here.

I’m not sure if he’s going to have an operation – I’ll need to talk to him about that – but if he is, I’m sure he’ll be laid up for a little while and he’ll get well looked after by Wales and the Ospreys.

Gareth Anscombe (left) and Hadleigh Parkes

He and Milica will probably book a holiday somewhere, get some sunshine and she’ll be extremely good for him, extremely supportive.

That leaves me to look for a new room-mate, and it looks like that will be ‘The Lane Train’.

You might remember from my last column that Owen Lane calls himself ‘The Lane Train’. He was with Gareth and me in Switzerland, so we’ve already talked to each other, ‘The Lane Train’ and I.

I can’t believe he still calls himself ‘The Lane Train’. We might be starting a new bond.

There haven’t been too many applications to be my new room-mate. It’s actually good because I’ll be able to pull the hierarchy card if there’s a double bed to claim, as I’m just a little bit older than him.

Bouncing back against England

We came into the dressing room after Sunday’s loss to England and it was a bit subdued. We were disappointed – there’s no hiding from that.

We got caught in the first half. Defensively we weren’t as good as we can be, while England came out and were really physical, got in behind us and scored three tries in that first half. We had a few opportunities but they played very well.

No matter what grade you’re playing, there’s going to be a bit of rustiness in your first hit-out.

But I thought we played some good at times. We went through some good phases, made breaks. It could have been a different story when we got back to 24-19 and on a bit of a roll, but we just couldn’t finish it off.

Those partnerships will grow. There might be changes this weekend, so it does take one or two games to get back in the swing of things.

We are still in a good place. There’s no point panicking or anything. It was our first hit-out and it was their first hit-out too – but they were just a bit better for it. They just executed their plans a bit better than we did.

No matter how fit you are, after your first hit-out you’re going to be blowing. Match fitness is a different fitness, so that defence will just keep improving.

Myself included, there were a few individual errors, a few bad reads. That will get better the more time you spend in the saddle.

We’re disappointed but we want to bounce back.

We’re going to be better for that game. It’s a starting point. We wanted to come away with a win but it’s not every day you play a team one weekend and get a chance to play them the next weekend.

We’re back at home on Saturday, it’s going to be a sell-out crowd, so I’m sure it’s going to be exciting. Hopefully it will be bouncing like it was when we played England in the Six Nations.

Forgetting about the winning run

There was a bit said about our record 14-match winning run – and it was fantastic – but sometimes you can look into those things a little bit too much.

Now that’s over, ultimately there’s a winning run we want to go on in Japan a little bit later on, and that’s the big goal.

A lot of people mentioned it and there was a lot written about it – and it would have been nice to keep it going – but as players and a management team we put it to one side.

You’re showing a few things in these warm-up matches but you’re keeping a few things up your sleeve as well, certain game plans or special moves for different opponents.

The beauty of these games against England and Ireland is that we’ve got the chance to play them for a second time straight away.

We’ve got good memories of playing England in Cardiff. I’ve never played in front of a crowd like the one at the Principality Stadium for this year’s Six Nations. The way they were singing in the second half, you had to scream at the guy stood just a few metres next to you in order to make yourself heard.

It’s going to be another tough game this weekend. It was very physical on Sunday – they’ve got some big boys who ran hard and we probably soaked a few tackles rather than getting up out of the line.

We were in a really good place in the Six Nations, we probably just dropped off a little and we have to get better and better. Our first World Cup game is in five weeks, so we’re building towards that.

was speaking to BBC Sport Wales’ Dafydd Pritchard.


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