Hadleigh Parkes is ready for a “very exciting” and “pretty emotional” occasion when Wales go for Six Nations title and Grand Slam glory next weekend.
Few players did more than Scarlets centre Parkes to keep Wales in contention for silverware as they survived a ferocious second-half onslaught from Scotland at Murrayfield.
Fly-half Gareth Anscombe’s late penalty sealed an 18-11 victory – Wales’ 13th in a row, and 12th out of the last 13 against Scotland – to set up a Principality Stadium showdown with Ireland in six days’ time.
Apart from Wales chasing a first title for six years and a third Grand Slam of head coach Warren Gatland’s reign, it is also a final Six Nations game for Gatland and his coaching lieutenants Rob Howley and Shaun Edwards, who all leave their posts after this autumn’s World Cup.
“You don’t get to play in these type of games every week,” said Parkes, sporting a cut above his right eye that required half-a-dozen stitches following his colossal defensive display.
“Some people go their whole careers without playing in a Grand Slam game.
“It’s going to be very exciting, and pretty emotional for ‘Gats’ in his last Six Nations. We had a tough week, but we dug deep and got the job done.”
Parkes is set to be cheered on by his brother Scott in Cardiff next Saturday, having travelled from New Zealand for the final flurries of Wales’ Six Nations campaign.
“He flew into Edinburgh on Friday and he was on the whiskies that night, so I think he was feeling his head more than I am!” Parkes added.
As Wales prepare to depart Edinburgh, a message from Warren:— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 10, 2019
"Next weekend will be emotional. If the Welsh crowd do what they did against England, then it could have a huge impact.
"It is going to be massive."
“He put a bit of pressure on. He booked this trip in August last year, and he was saying ‘are you going to make the team?’. I said I didn’t know, but if I didn’t, then we would have a bit of a holiday.
“He is over on a 10-day lads’ trip, so he is super-pumped about this next week, too.”
Wales and Ireland are no strangers to high-octane Grand Slam occasions in Cardiff.
Wales triumphed 32-20 in 2005 to claim their first Six Nations clean sweep, while Ireland won a thriller four years later as they ended a 61-year wait for the ultimate Five or Six Nations prize.
Ireland were also the last team to beat Wales – 37-27 in Dublin 13 months ago – and Parkes said: “This is absolutely the sort of occasion I was hoping to be involved in when I broke into the Wales squad.
“Ireland played well to win the Grand Slam last year, so we know how tough it’s going to be.
The Welsh public are enjoying the run we are on, and hopefully they will be dancing in Cardiff on Saturday night.Hadleigh Parkes
“But we have given ourselves this chance, and hopefully we can give the Welsh public – and ourselves – something to celebrate.
“Ireland are a tough team to play against because they can grind you down, but we created chances out there last year, and being at home is big for us.
“We can feed off the crowd, like we did against England two weeks ago. We are very lucky to be playing at that stadium in front of those fans.
“The Welsh public are enjoying the run we are on, and hopefully they will be dancing in Cardiff on Saturday night.
“It (Scotland game) was closer than we wanted, but it was a good defensive display and you have to be happy about that. We feel we are building nicely towards what is a pretty big prize.”