Hadleigh Parkes: Wales centre to leave Scarlets for Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan

Hadleigh Parkes attacks for Scarlets
Hadleigh Parkes joined Scarlets from Auckland in 2014

Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes' international career could be over as he looks set to leave Scarlets to join Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan.

Parkes, 32, has won 29 caps for Wales since making his debut in 2017.

The New Zealand-born player qualified on residency grounds after joining Scarlets in 2014.

But under Welsh Rugby Union selection rules he would no longer be eligible for Wales if he moved to Japan because he does not have 60 caps.

Players who play for clubs outside Wales are only able to represent the national team if they have made at least 60 Test appearances.

There are some exceptions, such as fellow centre Nick Tompkins who is eligible because he was playing for Saracens in England before earning his first cap for Wales.

Parkes, however, would not fall into that category and if his move to Japan goes ahead, Wales would lose a player who has become a midfield mainstay in recent years.

The coronavirus pandemic means rugby has been suspended at all levels in Wales, and it remains unclear when or if the season will resume.

Parkes' contract expires at the end of the campaign and he had been in talks with Scarlets and the WRU about a new deal.

A wage band system has been set up by the Professional Rugby Board for professional players in Wales, with the organisation leading the negotiations.

The wages of the top 38 elite players in Wales are funded 80% by the WRU and 20% by the individual region.

It is thought Parkes was only offered a one-year contract, whereas Panasonic Wild Knights are offering a longer-term deal and more money.

That financial security could prove too much of a pull for Parkes and his young family, who were intending to return to New Zealand once he had retired.

Playing in Japan would be a lucrative stop on that journey back home, and signing for Panasonic Wild Knights would see Parkes link up with high-profile, well-paid stars of the game such as former Australia captain David Pocock and New Zealand second row Sam Whitelock.

South Africa centre Damian de Allende has also been playing for the Ota-based side but, with the World Cup winner on his way to Munster, the team coached by former Wallabies boss Robbie Deans are looking for a new centre.

Parkes fits the bill and, if his departure from Scarlets is confirmed, that will give Wales head coach Wayne Pivac another midfield headache, having already been without British and Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies throughout his tenure so far because of injury.

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