Wed, Nov 08, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Parker comes out of retirement to oppose Islanders

AFP , CARDIFF

Wales coach Gareth Jenkins has called Ospreys center Sonny Parker out of international retirement to cover for the injured Hal Luscombe in preparation for Saturday's match against the Pacific Islanders here at the Millennium Stadium.

Luscombe, who is nursing a hamstring injury sustained on club duty, was unable to train fully on Monday 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," Jenkins explained on Monday.

"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," he said.

New Zealand-born Parker, the 18-times capped 2005 Grand Slam winner, announced his retirement from international rugby at the start of Wales's Six Nations campaign in January.

"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," Parker said.

"They say you should never say never and I don't regret quitting when I did, but I'm really excited about coming back," added Parker, who has scored five Test tries.

"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," Parker said.

Meanwhile, Wales captain Stephen Jones has been ruled out of the Pacific Islands clash after sustaining a knee injury in the 29-29 draw against Australia which opened the November international program at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Jones left the field early but one consolation for Wales was the impressive performance of replacement fly-half James Hook.

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

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