Rugby: Highlanders’ Parker stars for Japanese team

Hayden Parker
Hayden Parker
The Highlanders will get back to work today after a three-week break but one of their squad has already got his boots busy.

First five-eighth Hayden Parker has spent the past three months in Japan, turning out for the Panasonic Wild Knights, and he did his new side plenty of favours, starring for the team in its win on Saturday.

Parker (25) was hit by a shoulder injury last year and made only a couple of brief appearances for the Highlanders before he was ruled out for the rest of the season and had an operation.

Through a connection with the Highlanders and Panasonic, Parker was loaned to the Japanese outfit and has helped the side finish top of the table at the end of the regular season.

The Taieri player was loaned to Japan to try to get his match fitness back after such a lean amount of game time in 2015.

However, he has not had a huge amount of playing time in Japan and has usually come on in the second half to replace former Wallabies back Berrick Barnes.

But on Saturday, Barnes was missing with a slight hamstring injury and Parker started the game against the Canon Eagles.

He proceeded to not miss one shot at goal and helped himself to 26 points as the Knights won 46-6 in the first round of the playoffs to decide the overall Top League champion.

Parker converted all four tries scored by Panasonic and also helped himself to six penalties in an accomplished display with the boot.

Highlanders and Japan halfback Fumiaki Tanaka plays for Panasonic, which also has internationals JP Pietersen and Daniel Heenan on its books.

Parker and Tanaka will stay with the Japanese side until the end of its season, which could be sometime next month, depending on how far the side goes in the playoffs.

The Highlanders start training today and will have another four weeks on the practice fields before the first match of the pre-season against Racing 92, in Hong Kong.



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