Parker Returns

Wales coach Gareth Jenkins today (Monday) confirmed Ospreys centre Sonny Parker has been called out of international retirement to cover for the injured Hal Luscombe.


Wales coach Gareth Jenkins today (Monday) confirmed Ospreys centre Sonny Parker has been called out of international retirement to cover for the injured Hal Luscombe in preparation for the Invesco Perpetual Series '06 clash with the Pacific Islanders at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday (2.30 pm).

Luscombe, who is nursing a hamstring injury picked up during his last outing for his club, was unable to take a full part in training today but hopes to be back in contention next week.   "We have said from the start that we have a clean slate selection wise and that past reputation and any history with players will be disregarded," said Jenkins.

"So we ignored the fact that Sonny had announced his retirement and went about trying to tempt him back into the fold. We have identified that Sonny has been playing well, we have asked him to make himself available for his country and he has accepted - which is great news for Wales."

Parker, the 18-times capped 2005 Grand Slam winner, announced his retirement from international rugby at the start of Wales' RBS Six Nations campaign in 2006.

"I said when I retired that my head wasn't in the right place for international rugby and I didn't feel I was able to give of my best, but I have to admit that I've missed it," he said.

"I'm really enjoying my rugby at the moment, the Ospreys are going well and we have a great squad. The Wales management team has told me they want me and, quite simply, the temptation to return has just proved too much.

"They say you should never say never and I don't regret quitting when I did, but I'm really excited about coming back. There's a really good buzz about the squad and, with the World Cup just around the corner, I'm ready to fall back in love with international rugby all over again.

"My challenge now is to work hard in training and give the coaches every reason to pick me. It's certainly nice to be wanted, I know I'm in a really privileged position, possibly getting another chance to play for my country, and I won't be taking it lightly. If anything, I'll be even more determined this time around to show my appreciation to the coaches for coming to get me and to the fans who have stuck by me."

Meanwhile, Wales captain Stephen Jones has been ruled out of the Millennium Stadium meeting with the South Sea Islanders.

Jones left the field early against Australia on Saturday with a knee injury which he is yet to recover from, but it is hoped he will be back to full fitness next week.

"Stephen has a medial ligament strain which will keep him off his feet for the time being," said Wales team physio Mark Davies.

"We will further assess his progress in recovery later in the week, with the prospect of him returning to training in preparation for the Canada match."

Jones and Luscombe are the only players missing from coach Jenkins' selection mix, with the Wales side to take on the Pacific Islanders due to be announced on Wednesday.

"We have a couple of minor bumps and bruises among the rest of the squad but nothing too serious at the moment," added Davies.

"Adam Jones came through the match without any reaction to his ankle sprain and Ryan Jones from a rib contusion.

"Gavin Evans didn't take a full part in training last week after a groin strain, but he is up and running now, raring to go."