RUGBY UNION: Parker praises Henson impact

Sonny Parker in action for London Welsh

Sonny Parker in action for London Welsh

First published in Sport Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

SONNY Parker has praised the role of former international teammate Gavin Henson in London Welsh’s impressive Premiership season so far.

Parker and Henson were centres in Wales’ 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam winning squads and played together at the Ospreys.

Now Henson, 30, who was not selected to face Northampton today due to a back injury, is playing fly half for London Welsh, with 35-year-old Parker using all his experience in midfield.

“Gavin has matured as an individual, “ said Parker.

“When he first came through, he was very much a raw talent and just did his own thing.

“Now he is very structured and has been helping out the younger boys.

“He has just had a really good impact on the club.

“It has actually surprised me how switched on he has been.

“He has played some good rugby this season and hopefully he can get better.

“He is looking really good in training.”

Parker, who was born in New Zealand, won 31 caps for Wales between 2002 and 2008.

He is happy to have his say when asked, but enjoys keeping a quiet profile.

“With the structure that we have here, there is not much much input I can put in,” said Parker.

“Even though I have been playing for a number of years, I always listen to my mentors.

“First and foremost, I listen to my coaches.”

Parker added: “I have slotted in really well.

There are a couple of players I already knew and I have been coached by Lyn before.

“There are quite a lot of Welsh players too.

“There is a lot of banter flying around here, especially on Twitter.”

Reflecting on today’s match, Parker added: “Northampton have got some very sharp backs and they can outmuscle teams as well.

“They play really well at home and have got an amazing fan base.

“For me personally, it is a big challenge and the same is true for the team.

“As a player, they are the sort of games you want to play in.

“Rugby is such a big thing for their whole town.

“I am really excited to be involved.”

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