Cap No 1144
As far as international debuts are concerned, Hadleigh Parkes’ was a bit special. Having spent three years at the Scarlets qualifying to play for Wales, the Hunterville, New Zealand-born centre literally burst on to the Test scene against South Africa in the final game of the 2017 Under Armour Series at Principality Stadium.
He scored within seven minutes of his first game in a Welsh shirt, bagged a second try later in the first half, and carried off the man of the match award after helping Wales to beat the Springboks 24-22.
It was not a bad start for a player who had only been drafted into the Welsh squad for the four match autumn campaign a month earlier. He wasn’t available for selection until 2 December, but Warren Gatland gave him his chance at the earliest opportunity and neither coach nor player has looked back since.
When he left the family sheep farm in New Zealand with his now wife, Suzanne, the former Manawatu, Auckland Blues, Wellington Hurricanes and Southern Kings centre wasn’t thinking about anything other than doing a good job for his former Auckland coach, Wayne Pivac, at the Scarlets. He did that and more for the Welsh region and in more than 100 appearances for the Llanelli-based side has helped them to win the Guinness PRO12 (2017), reach a second final (2018) and play in a Champions Cup semi-final (2018).
A vital cog in the Welsh back line, he started four of the five Grand Slam matches in 2019, scoring a vital try in the clincher against Ireland, and featured in 11 of the record run of 14 successive victories in 2018/19. He learned his rugby at Palmerston North Boys’ High School and the University of Canterbury.