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Wales Online
Wales Online
Mark Orders

Hadleigh Parkes set to look for new club after remarkable two-year unbeaten run in Japan

Hadleigh Parkes will look to complete two seasons unbeaten in Japan on Sunday amid speculation the Wales international could be ready for a new chapter in his career.

He will play for Saitama Wild Knights in the Top League final against Suntory Sungoliath.

There are strong rumours that Damian de Allende has been lined up as a replacement for Parkes in the centre, with the South African poised to return to the club he played for before joining Munster in 2020.

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It could leave Parkes with a decision to make. At 34, he could opt to retire, but there are suggestions he is looking to continue in the game, with his options including staying in Japan with another club or moving home to New Zealand, possibly to play in the National Provincial Championship.

A source didn’t completely rule out a switch back to Wales, where he represented the Scarlets with such distinction over six seasons and proved such a reliable midfield operator for Wales. But it was stressed one of the first two scenarios appears more likely to unfold.

Parkes has been an unqualified success in Japan, helping to extend the Wild Knights’ run of wins to 31 when Covid-induced cancellations are not taken into account. His smooth passing, calm decision-making, reliability in defence and power with ball in hand have contributed significantly to Knights’ pre-eminence and the Robbie Deans-coached team will be aiming to crown their season this weekend.

With Wales, Parkes won 20 of the 29 games he played, with Warren Gatland calling him the 'glue' in the backline, not least because he made so few errors.

Team-mates also looked up to him for his organised and cool demeanour on and off the field, with one at the Scarlets saying: "He's got it sussed."

The match for Wild Knights on Sunday is set to be ex-England international George's Kruis' last professional club game before he retires. though he missed the semi-final last week due to injury.

Like Parkes, he has never lost playing for the Wild Knights.

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