Hadleigh Parkes column: Bumpy flights and having collar tidied up by Alun Wyn Jones

Hadleigh Parkes column
Guinness Six Nations: Wales v France
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 22 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, text commentary on BBC Sport website and app.

In his latest BBC Sport column, Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes discusses defeat in Ireland, dodgy Dublin flights, Six Nations title hopes and having his collar felt by Alun Wyn Jones.

You could say we were dwelling on a lot of what ifs following our defeat in Ireland. As a collective, we were disappointed in the changing room afterwards but we will learn and bounce back.

At half-time, I thought we had done well. We did not have a lot of possession or territory but we had defended well on our line.

There were a few mistakes in the second half and you can't do that against Ireland. They are a good team who played well and when they get in front, they are hard to claw back because they are so clinical.

The Aviva Stadium is a difficult place to go and play and Wales have not won a Six Nations game there since 2012.

Of course it might have been a bit different if I had just managed to score in the second half and it was so close. I have seen those given before but it was a decision made by the TMO and you have to respect that.

Hadleigh Parkes almost scores against Ireland
Hadleigh Parkes almost scores against Ireland

You can think back and maybe I should have looked after the ball and gone on to the next phase but in the heat of the moment, I thought I could get over the line.

I was almost there - I reached out and the ball just popped out at the last instant. If that had been a try, momentum might have been with us because it would have been 19-14, but it wasn't to be.

Dublin dramas

There were a couple of incidents in and around Dublin that proved a little bit unexpected.

Before the game, there was Alun Wyn Jones adjusting my collar just before I met the Irish president.

I was pretty surprised and was not sure what he was doing at first. He just grabbed my collar and popped it up and you could see the little bit of shock on my face.

It just shows our captain wants all the boys looking sharp and presentable when we are meeting important guests.

Alun Wyn Jones adjusts Hadleigh Parkes collar
Alun Wyn Jones adjusts Hadleigh Parkes collar

I was not sure whether anybody would have seen that and I was quite surprised by the reaction it provoked. I am not on Twitter so you don't always see the immediate reaction.

It was actually Alun Wyn and Luke Broadley [the national squad media manager] who told me it had gone viral - and some of the boys have been getting stuck into me!

Our flight home on Sunday was quite eventful as well as we, like thousands of Welsh supporters, battled with Storm Ciara to get back to Cardiff.

We were delayed a few hours and were hearing stories about flights going to Bristol or Manchester or being cancelled altogether.

The take-off was a little bit bumpy but most of the journey was pretty good until we started to come into land through the clouds towards Cardiff.

You could see the change in the boys who had headphones on or who were watching iPads or laptops. The headphones soon came off and electronic devices were shut down, while a few hoods came up and there was some nervous laughter from certain quarters.

We were just coming into land when a huge gust of wind hit us and turned the plane around quite a long way before the pilot straightened us back up with a superb piece of flying.

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But then the wing on our side started tipping right over and Rhys Webb was sitting behind me. He was shouting: "He can't land this, he can't land this, he has to pull back up!" As you can imagine that is a huge confidence-booster when you are sitting in front of him!

So the landing was a bit hairy and an adrenalin rush but we got home safely and hopefully all the Welsh supporters did as well. Those who didn't get back straightaway I am sure enjoyed their extra time in Dublin.

My parents were among the fans in Ireland although they stayed over until Wednesday to travel around a bit.

They had flown into Dublin via Doha and they seem to have been to Ireland about six times in the past four years.

They actually ditched me after the game because they were going to come back to the team hotel but I had a text saying they were in a bar with Gareth Davies' parents and some fans. They said they were having a good time and they would see me on Wednesday!

They flew in to see us then and it was the first time they had met their granddaughter Ruby, who was born in November.

When they first arrived in the house, Ruby was asleep and I just suggested we should let that happen for a little longer!

They were just so delighted to meet their sixth grandchild. The five others live within five minutes of their home in New Zealand and they are brilliant with all my brothers and their families.

It is always awesome to have mum and dad here and they will stay with Suzy and me for the France game before heading back.

We are going down to Saundersfoot this weekend just for a little break before returning for training on Monday.

French preparations

Six Nations table with team, points, won, drawn, lost, points difference, bonus points and match points: France 2, 2, 0, 0, 20, 1, 9; Ireland 2, 2, 0, 0, 17, 1, 9; Wales 2, 1, 0, 1, 32, 1, 5; England 2, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 5; Scotland 2, 0, 0, 2, -14, 2, 2; Italy 2, 0, 0, 2, -55, 0, 0

That trip will come after a week in camp with Wales where we have not been preparing for a game at the weekend, which is always a little different.

A Test week is more intense. You are a little bit more relaxed in a fallow week in the Six Nations, although you probably do a little bit more of a load in training, especially the boys who have been playing.

You do more weights and fitness so that the next week you have that bit more in the tank.

We also lose players from the squad, with some going back to the regions and some returning to their English clubs.

You do lose numbers so it is a good chance for some of the younger boys, such as the under-20s, to see what it is like. They are the stars of the future who will be pulling on a red jersey one day.

The Grand Slam and Triple Crown have gone now but the Six Nations title is very much still on. It is important we learn the lessons of the Ireland defeat, but there are still a lot of big games ahead.

We have France and Scotland at home and a trip to England in between. Two of those games are in Cardiff at an amazing stadium and we always get a lift playing in front of our own fans.

There are key matches remaining and if everything goes well for us with teams taking points off each other, we can definitely still win the title.

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