Hadleigh Parkes column: Six Nations uncertainty, Liam Williams and Brad Mooar


In his latest BBC Sport column, Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes discusses their defeat by France, Six Nations uncertainty, the possible return of Liam Williams and his Scarlets coach Brad Mooar.

The France defeat was hard to take and I must emphasise how much we don’t like losing, especially at home.

It was a tough Test match against a physical side who played very well. I thought we also played well.

We have to learn from it because it was a second game in a row where we had the opportunities and we might have had a different result had we converted them.

We must put that right and focus on what will be a tough Test against England at Twickenham.

There is a bit of doubt about the Six Nations finishing, with Ireland and Italy postponed because of the spread of coronavirus.

We are planning for business as usual, but we are aware this is just sport. People’s health comes first and you don’t want to put anyone at risk.

The right decision has been made about the Ireland v Italy game. We will find out what happens to the rest of the tournament in the coming days, but people’s health and safety is paramount.

Super Sanjay

Liam Williams and Hadleigh Parkes celebrate victory against South Africa in November 2018

We will wait and see whether Liam Williams is fit for the match against England, but it’s just great to see him back in training.

He is a good mate of mine and it is great to see he is joining us early for the Scarlets. He will be a good asset before the end of the season.

It is great for him and his partner, Sophie, to come back from London as he commits his future to Wales.

Scarlets fans will be excited and he was one of the crowd favourites when he was there before – people see that he wears his heart on his sleeve.

He is a good character to have in the squad and on the field. He is a lovely bloke and a nice, generous guy.

He is also a great competitor and wants to do well at the highest level. He is not afraid to voice his opinion in meetings, saying what he thinks and what he expects of others.

His return would be timely especially when you see Josh Adams has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with an ankle problem.

Injuries are a part of this great game, but I am gutted for Josh who has had such a great couple of years and scored a lot of tries.

It is all about getting that ankle right for when he comes back with Cardiff Blues. Sometimes injuries can be a blessing.

You don’t wish them on anyone, but they can help other parts of the body to recover so you can return firing on all cylinders.

Magnificent Mooar

Brad Mooar was an assistant coach at Crusaders

One of the great things about Liam’s return is that he will get to work with Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar for a few months.

They will get on well. Brad is coming into his last few months before he returns to New Zealand to become part of Ian Foster’s All Blacks backroom staff.

Brad and I go back a long way. It was in 2006 when I moved to Christchurch, where he was a partner in a law firm, for university. He was also a coach at the team I ended up going to, Christchurch Football Club.

He was my coach there for three or four years, and we got on well from there. He actually became my agent when I was there and I always knew he had my best interests at heart.

He charged his fees as if he was a lawyer though! Seriously though, he was very good and had a lot of contacts.

I moved to Auckland and he was still my agent, but in my second year there he decided he wanted to become a full-time coach and he joined the Southern Kings in South Africa.

He passed me on to another agent and it turned out that both Gareth Anscombe and I were deemed surplus to requirements at the Blues the following year.

Gareth moved to the Chiefs and I went to South Africa to play for the Kings in their first year of Super Rugby.

I only trained in the rain four times in the 10 months I was there and only played four games because I broke my arm against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

I was gutted not to play, but the consolation was the injury helped me to enjoy South Africa for what it was and I had a great time.

My wife Suzy, who was then my partner, got a secondment to work in South Africa.

We were actually living in an outhouse to Brad’s family’s house, where he lived with his wife, Anna, and three children, Laura, Charlie and Sam.

They had a big pool and our back door led to it. We were also able to get to the beach every day and we had great tans and looked like surfers.

After Brad came home from training, I would end up having a few beers with him some nights.

We had a great time and we got on extremely well. We both then went our separate ways, but always kept in touch.

Then the Scarlets came job came around with Wayne Pivac moving to Wales.

Wayne and Brad had met a couple of times. Brad was over here on holiday when we had a pre-season game against Bath and he got in touch with me to ask if he could come in and talk to the coaches.

I set up that meeting and what came of that, I guess, was an introduction and a contact for him ahead of the job coming up.

He got the Scarlets role and I was accidentally the agent so he actually owes me now – I should charge him as much as he charged me!

Brad has done an outstanding job and the boys really like him at the Scarlets after he added to what was already here.

He is an extremely positive man and is so infectious. You can be feeling down going into training, but he will lift you with the environment he has created.

The opportunity of a lifetime has come up for him to coach the All Blacks.

I think he did consider staying at the Scarlets for a little bit longer, but coaching New Zealand is his dream and all the Scarlets squad are excited for him.

The All Blacks first game is against Wales at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday, 4 July and we will wait and see whether we will be up against each other then.

But a lot has to happen before then, starting with next weekend’s Six Nations match against England at Twickenham.

For the latest Welsh rugby union news follow @BBCScrumV