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Hadleigh Parkes 'privileged' to play in World Cup quarter-final

Hadleigh Parkes 'privileged' to play in World Cup quarter-final
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New Zealand-born centre has become a mainstay of the Wales team.

Hadleigh Parkes and his wife Suzy are set to become proud parents next month – and the Webb Ellis Cup would be a perfect gift for their new arrival.

Suzy is due to give birth around November 18, just over two weeks after the World Cup final.

And with Wales two wins away from securing a place in that showpiece occasion, it could prove a fantastic fortnight for New Zealand-born Parkes and his family.

Wales v Fiji – Pool D – 2019 Rugby World Cup – Oita Stadium
Wales' Hadleigh Parkes (centre) is tackled by Fiji's Semi Kunatani and Levani Botia during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool D match at Oita Stadium.

"We are both very excited," Wales centre Parkes said. "She is going well. We are very lucky with the support base we have in Cardiff and around Wales.

"The baby is due around November 18, and they say with your first one it's normally a bit late, but you never know."

And asked about the possibility of a World Cup welcome present, he added: "That would be nice!"

Since qualifying for Wales on residency and making a Test debut in December 2017, Parkes has proved a midfield model of consistency.

He has played in 22 of Wales' last 26 games and been on the losing side just four times.

Parkes, 32, only arrived in Wales five years ago, joining the Scarlets and quickly carving out a strong reputation.

Rugby World Cup Gareth Davies v Antoine Dupont. See story RUGBYU Wales. Editable versions of this graphic are available via PA Graphics or your account manager. Infographic by PA Graphics

"You do have to pinch yourself a little bit," he said. "It has been an amazing few years. To be here, playing in a World Cup quarter-final against France, it's exciting and a massive privilege.

"It has been superb. With how it came about five years ago I would certainly never have dreamt that this would be on the cards, but it has worked out pretty well.

"There were two options on the table – Bayonne for six months and maybe a little bit longer, or a two-a half-year gig in west Wales.

"Suzy had just qualified as a chartered accountant, so it was a bit tough to ask her to go to a French-speaking country where she probably wouldn't be able to work.

"For both of us it was probably a better move to go somewhere where she could work as well and get experience. She has loved that side of it.

"Wayne Pivac (Wales' new head coach after the World Cup) was my Auckland ITM Cup coach, and then he got the job at the Scarlets.

Scotland v Wales – Guinness Six Nations – BT Murrayfield
Wales' Hadleigh Parkes has formed a high-class centre combination with Jonathan Davies.

"He was going in initially as a forwards coach, but then Simon Easterby went to Ireland and Wayne got the head coach job.

"He had been in touch a couple of times before he left, and then it came through that there was a gig there and would I be keen? It was a great opportunity for both Suzy and myself to go."

Parkes never looked back, establishing a high-class centre combination with Jonathan Davies and becoming an integral part of Wales boss Warren Gatland's plans.

"When I turned up to the Scarlets five years ago we struggled to make the (league) play-offs, then two years later we managed to win it, then the following year we made the PRO14 final and the semi-finals of Europe," he added.

"And being able to play for Wales in the last two years has been amazing. The (winning) run we went on, the Six Nations, the Grand Slam, the tour to Argentina and America.

"I've had some amazing experiences, and it has been a dream."

Parkes, though, knows the danger that France will present in Oita on Sunday.

"Everyone knows what's on the line this weekend," he said. "We either fly to Tokyo or we are flying back to Wales on Monday.

"We hugely respect them, they are a good side and it's always a tough game.

"Now, it's knockout footy, and if we don't show up on Sunday we are packing our bags and going home. The boys are relaxed, but deep down we are chomping at the bit to get into it."

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