Sports News

Hadleigh Parkes column: Josh Adams tries, Dan Biggar brilliance and Dublin hopes

Six Nations: Ireland v Wales
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 8 February Kick-off: 1415 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Five, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru plus the BBC Sport website & app

In his latest BBC Sport column, Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes discusses try-scoring machine Josh Adams, the new caps’ success against Italy and attempting to beat Ireland in Dublin.

What an opening Six Nations weekend. You don’t get many starts like that. Five tries, a bonus-point win and the keeping of a good Italian side pointless.

One of the pleasing aspects was the manner of the tries, especially those off set-piece.

It is a good step in the style we want to play going forward and there was no better example of that than the glorious pass from Dan Biggar between his legs for Josh Adams’ second try.

I was slightly surprised and am not sure where it came from. Dan was getting a bit of stick from the boys, but he takes it pretty well and gives as good as he gets.

He has backed himself to do that and it has come off, so good on him, and it was another smart finish by Josh.

Awesome Adams

Dan Biggar (right) helps Josh Adams celebrate a try against Italy. Adams has scored 10 tries in his last eight Tests

It is such a positive when you have a world-class finisher in your side. Just like a top football team with a lethal striker, it is heartening to know you have someone like that at your disposal.

He is not only scoring tries, but scoring hard tries as well. You want your wingers to finish well, but defensively he is going well and has a huge work-rate in attack and is a threat all over the park.

He is coming off his wing and making dents and that is what you want from players who are in form. The boys are enjoying watching and playing with him.

It is nice knowing if you give him half an opportunity there is a good chance he will come away with a try, or a good break that could lead to a try.

It is about him trying to get his hands on the ball as much as possible and our job as midfielders is to give our wingers as much space as possible to do what they are good at.

Saturday was also a special moment for Johnny McNicholl, the other wing, as he won his first cap.

His wife and daughter were watching at the stadium with my wife and daughter and I am told they were extremely excited.

His daughter was loving the crowd. It was awesome because we got down on to the pitch with our wives and kids after the game and had a little run around.

It was great for him and his family to have that. Those moments, which people don’t always see, are so special. To get a win on your first cap was also great and I am really stoked for him.

Centre conundrum

Hadleigh Parkes was replaced by Nick Tompkins against Italy

Nick Tompkins was the other new cap and he managed to score a superb try on his debut after coming on as a replacement.

I played against him a couple of times with Saracens, but the first time I met him was in here at the Wales camp and he seems like a lovely bloke. He is a lot of fun, a bit of a character, and he came on and played extremely well.

I know he had a lot family and friends in Cardiff as well. To get a try on your debut is pretty special and he performed his role extremely well.

It just shows how much competition there is for places now with Nick and George North putting their hands up for selection and Owen Watkin coming back from injury.

You want internal competition because it pushes you. Not just at centre, but throughout the squad.

It puts pressure on you to perform not only on the playing park but also the training ground. I would like to think if somebody is pushing you that you are also helping them as well.

We all want Wales to do well and be successful and whoever takes the field, that is the main goal.

We want to be a successful side and whether you are playing a supporting role or starting, it doesn’t matter. You just want a good team environment to succeed.

Mixed memories

Whoever is picked in the Welsh midfield against Ireland will be up against Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw, with Garry Ringrose missing out through injury.

Regular readers of this column will know that Bundee is a guy I go way back with, to battles we have had at New Zealand provincial level, Super Rugby and in the Pro14 with the Scarlets against Connacht.

Bundee and Robbie are both powerful boys who run hard and straight and have good skill sets as well. They are key to getting Ireland on the front foot and are good defensively.

Ireland also have big forwards who give them go forward. The half-backs ensure they have a strong kicking game, which will put you under the pump.

So they are a well-drilled side with class players across the park and will be better for their hard-fought win over Scotland.

It is going to be a different story for us going over there and trying to get a result at a stadium I have mixed memories of.

In 2017, Scarlets won the Pro12 final against Munster which was a culmination of a great end to that season.

The following year we lost to Leinster twice, in the Pro14 final and Champions Cup semi-final, and Wales lost to Ireland in the Six Nations.

I am told that is the last time we lost in the Six Nations – and that Wales have had not had a victory in this tournament there since 2012.

It is a cool stadium and Dublin is an awesome city to visit and has a good party atmosphere.

Hopefully on Saturday both sides can put on a performance supporters can be proud of, with Wales celebrating at the end.

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