Hadleigh Parkes column: Beating England and meeting Hollywood stars
|Six Nations: Scotland v Wales|
|Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 9 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT|
|Coverage: Live on BBC One, S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.|
In the fifth of his Six Nations columns, Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes talks about the momentous win over England, cauliflower ears and celebrating with a Hollywood actor.
The win over England was unbelievable, an amazing experience, just great to be a part of it.
You realised in the first half just how many English there were there, when they were doing all their singing and I think our fans matched them.
But then in that second half, the Welsh fans were amazing. I've never felt anything like it.
The roof was open and you were struggling to hear the people next to you. It was a truly amazing experience.
Even as a player concentrating on the game, you do take the atmosphere in, the singing and the chanting.
You've got to give our fans a pat on the back for what they did on the weekend. The boys got the result but the fans deserved a pat on the back for the way they got behind the boys.
I'm sure it's something we'll all remember for a long time.
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The dreaded cauliflower ear
A few days on, I'm feeling pretty good but a bit sore.
In one of my tackles against England I managed to give myself a cauliflower ear!
It's inflamed and I'm struggling to hear out of it. They syringed some of the blood out of it and put stitches in but unfortunately the stitches got infected so I haven't been able to sleep the last couple of nights.
It's quite painful and I've had the stitches out by now, but the boys have been giving me stick about it.
Hopefully it dies down but fortunately I'm already married so it doesn't matter too much!
I'll be fine but I've got a new admiration for what the props have to go through.
Swapping shirts with Tuilagi
The game itself was very physical with long phases of play. The ball-in-play time in the first half was 20 minutes, which is very high, and you certainly felt it.
You could see a real battle on the gain line in that first half and then in the second half we managed to win that a lot more than they did, which went a long way to helping us win the match.
At the end of the day, you're all just sportspeople and you get on pretty well.
We were with the England boys during the after-match function and they all seemed like nice blokes.
Sometimes on the field, people can be portrayed as being a little bit niggly but it's the competitiveness. Off the field, most rugby players are all good blokes really.
It's a sport where quite a lot of the time you go into the opposition changing room, have a beer and a bit of a chit-chat, especially if you know each other, and have a meal upstairs afterwards.
I know a couple of the England guys. I played with Brad Shields and Nathan Hughes in New Zealand.
I swapped jerseys with Manu Tuilagi so it was nice to have a chat with him. He's quite a solid, big boy!
There was a lot of chat before the game about what Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones had been saying.
They do what they feel is in the best interest of the team but, again, they've played the game so they know what it's about.
They have a chat afterwards too. Gats and John Mitchell [England's defence coach] go back a long way to Waikato in New Zealand when they were flatmates.
You battle on the field and you don't want to lose but, after the final whistle, it's a handshake and an arm around the shoulder and either 'well done' or 'commiserations' and all the best for the next few games.
Rugby's a very special game in the way that happens.
We're lucky with the Principality Stadium being right in the middle of town. It's amazing, you walk out and within a few minutes you can be in some pretty busy bars!
Straight after the game, we were all in the changing room and it was awesome being in there. If you don't have any bumps or bruises, you're allowed to have a couple of beers, sit down and just chew the fat really.
It's a pretty cool place to be, especially after a win like that.
You've got to do the formalities in the presidents' lounge afterwards, with the presidents and the captains giving speeches before a sit-down meal.
Then it's up to the team what they do from there.
On this occasion, there was one bus that went into town and one bus went back to our hotel in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Sometimes after a game like that you're pretty wrecked physically. Sometimes you don't feel like going out or doing too much.
It was nice for me personally just to come back here to the hotel for a couple of gin and tonics. I was pretty shattered so it wasn't a late night for me!
Hanging out with Hollywood stars
You train day in, day out and you train hard, putting in long hours. But then you go out there on the pitch and you're doing something you love.
We're very fortunate to have that as our job, and you've got to enjoy those moments afterwards, especially after a big win, to sit down and just relax, have a couple of beers with the music playing.
The actor Luke Evans from the Hobbit and Fast & Furious 6 came in, which was pretty awesome.
He was on fire. He was very passionate and clearly loves the game.
It's cool to have him come into the changing room and say 'Boys, that was amazing!'
He's loving it and then you're thinking 'He's a Hollywood actor!' It's like you're little kids again.
You get asked for photos with rugby fans and then he's in there asking for a photo and we're, like: 'Actually, can we get a photo with you?'
It's amazing the people you get to meet in this job.
That might be an Instagram post one day! He might make the cut if he's lucky, depends if he puts me in his next movie.
Job only half-done
It's been very chilled the last couple of days. It's been a hectic few weeks and it's great to be three from three, but it was nice to have Sunday to relax.
I went for a little bike ride along the River Taff and we had Monday off too so, with the weather as it's been the last few days, it's nice to just sit outside and enjoy it.
We trained on Tuesday and we'll be training again on Thursday and Friday so it will be a tough end to the week but a couple of days off were much needed for the sore bodies.
We know the job is only half-done and we've got two very big matches coming up.
Scotland up there is going to be a tough task, and one which we're all looking forward to.
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