Hadleigh Parkes column: Singing with Bryn Terfel and inspiring baby names

Hadleigh Parkes column
World Cup warm-up: Wales v Ireland
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 31 August Kick-off: 14:30 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC 5 Live Extra & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

In his latest BBC Sport column, Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes explains why the squad have been taking singing lessons from an operatic superstar - and how he'll discover if he's been selected in Wales World Cup squad on Sunday.

Whenever Wales travel for big tournaments or tours we've got a tradition of singing a Welsh song as a squad, and this year we've brought the big guns in.

We'll be singing 'Calon Lan' and 'Lawr ar Lan y Mor' at the World Cup in Japan so, to help us get in tune, we've enlisted the help of world-renowned opera singer Sir Bryn Terfel.

Rhys Patchell, Alun Wyn Jones and Rob Evans are our choir leaders, so we've had a few practice sessions and this week it's certainly gone up a level since Sir Bryn has got involved!

I'm a bit tone-deaf and, listening to the others, it sounds like a lot of us are. But what we lack in tunefulness we make up for with enthusiasm.

It's good fun and the boys enjoy it. In the practices so far, Bradley Davies has really shone through and Leigh Halfpenny and Ken Owens back themselves.

It was Rhys Patchell who taught me how to sing the national anthem and Patch has been showing Sir Bryn around our base at the Vale of Glamorgan Resort. He'll be at our team meeting and watching training, so it will be awesome to have him around.

Bryn Terfel
Sir Bryn Terfel, who has won four Classic Brit Awards and a Grammy Award, was knighted in 2017

The wait for World Cup selection

It's such a big day on Sunday.

Players will be by their phones, watching TV, waiting to find out if they've been selected in the final 31-man World Cup squad.

Because it's an early kick-off against Ireland on Saturday, players involved will come back to the Vale and then have the option of staying here or going home to their families.

Personally, I've got a lot of family over so we'll go out for dinner somewhere, relax, take our minds off it and try to get some sleep!

There are four different options when it comes to finding out whether or not you've been chosen in the squad. You can find out live - watching online or on TV - or by email, text or phone call.

I was going to have it on email because that's how I've found out everything else, like finding out if I've been in previous Wales squads.

But this time I've decided to find out live.

I'm not sure why. I guess you're going to find out one way or another anyway, whether it's five minutes before or live, it doesn't make much difference.

If selected, it would be quite cool to be watching it live online or on TV.

Either way, if you're not involved, you get a phone call from the coaches a couple of hours later, which I think is really important.

Turkish heat to prepare for Ireland

Whatever happens on Sunday, hopefully we'll be celebrating a good win over Ireland.

The last time we played them at the Principality Stadium, we certainly got stuck into them and dominated them.

They're going to be coming here with a point to prove, so it's going to be a huge weekend.

The game is a big opportunity for the boys involved for us.

I won't be involved on Saturday but it won't be a case of feet up. You actually do a lot more fitness, a couple of extra gym sessions, and you also have to prepare the boys as best you can because they do the same when you're playing.

Wales felt the heat on their recent training camp in Turkey
Wales felt the heat on their recent training camp in Turkey

We've not long got back from Turkey, where we've been for a training camp, putting our bodies under heat stress. There were some pretty warm days out there!

We'd get up, train in the morning, have a break when it was too hot in the middle of the day and then train again in the afternoon.

You could definitely feel it - just walking out of the door of the hotel, the heat would hit you.

It was good, though. The boys got stuck in and hopefully that sets us up well for this last part of our preparations for the World Cup.

Some of us have been in camp now for 12 weeks and it's absolutely flown by. It's been enjoyable and it's been tough.

There's such a big carrot at the end of it, you want to train as hard as you can and play as well as you can because it would be an amazing experience to get on that plane and travel to Japan.

The boys want to do really well out there so, for the 31 who get to go, it's a very exciting time.

Inspiring baby names

Back in June, a few of us went to New Zealand for Gareth Anscombe's wedding and we'd been out one day playing golf on the west coast, not far from Auckland.

We went into town in the evening and, for those who know the Viaduct Harbour in Auckland, there are a couple of Irish pubs there and there's one which is always busy - whatever night of the week it is - and that's Danny Doolan's.

We ended up in there for a bit of live music and this guy comes up to me, a Welsh farmer called Marc Lloyd Jones who lives in New Zealand and knows my cousins, who are also farmers.

Marc's wife Nia Wyn was pregnant and I'm not on Twitter but someone pointed out to me that there was a photo of Marc and me at Danny Doolan's, and they'd named their baby after me.

It's a slightly different spelling, a Welsh spelling, Hadli, which is nice. Hopefully it's all going well for them and the baby's sleeping well!

Hadleigh Parkes was speaking to BBC Sport Wales' Dafydd Pritchard.

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