Hadleigh Parkes column: George North commentary, the Sistine Chapel and mind games

Hadleigh Parkes column
Six Nations: Wales v England
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 23 February Kick-off: 16:45 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 third of his Six Nations columns, Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes talks about George North's commentary skills, sightseeing in Rome and the match against England.

You always love to play but, as a watcher, I'm supportive of the team so it was good to see us get the job done with a win against Italy in Rome.

I was sitting next to George North on the sideline and I've never sat next to a guy that commentates on the game so much!

Every breakdown, every pass, everything - I was getting a blow-by-blow verbal of the game from him. I don't know if I'd say he's got a career after he retires but he can talk!

It probably wasn't the greatest performance, but it's still a win and ultimately, if you keep winning with the World Cup ahead, that's all that matters really.

I think reading the big picture, Gats [Warren Gatland] did say he wanted all 31 who were in Nice to have some game time and so then it was good to see that he can make 10 changes and you're still getting a win.

Hadleigh Parkes
Hadleigh Parkes did not feature in Wales' 26-15 win over Italy

Playing a supporting role

Your job does change a little bit in the preparation for a match when you're not in the matchday 23, in that you have to prepare the team as well as you can, because the players need opposition at training.

They need people running the plays that you think might come up from the opposition in the game. Also you need to train against a defence which works in the way the opposition does, so that you can almost second-guess what they'll do.

That's your role and you have to work hard as well because if you train well then that means the team trains well and it gets them as well prepared for the game as possible.

It was good to see Owen Watkin going well. It's good to have competition internally as well, because it makes you try to up your game.

I thought he took his try well, distributed well and did well in defence - it's good to see and I think he's going to have a huge future in Wales.

He's only a young boy and he's going to be around this Wales set-up for the next 10 years if all goes well and he stays injury-free.

Owen Watkin scoring
Owen Watkin scored his first Wales try against Italy

Sightseeing in Rome - but rushing out of the Sistine Chapel

We're in a fallow week so had last Sunday as a travel day and Monday and Tuesday off, so I stayed on for a couple days in Rome with my parents.

It was my first time in Rome, so we had a good look around the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, the Vatican City...

It's just amazing that you can be walking the streets and you think you've seen a whole lot of stuff and you turn a corner and there's some other big building which is 2,000 years old, whereas back in New Zealand it would be 200 years old.

It's hugely eye-opening. You go into the Pantheon and from the outside it looks old and the inside looks tremendous.

You learn how they build that dome on the ground, with no supporting structure and they lifted it up and put that on top at the final stage... Like how the hell did they do that?!

It's kind of mind-boggling what humans could do back in those days and it's amazing to see that history.

My parents got there for when there was a Welsh choir in there on the Friday night and they said that was very special.

I had a bit of problem when it came to seeing the Sistine Chapel.

I was flying back to Wales on Tuesday afternoon and we were on a tour around the Vatican with my parents, so I was trying to rush ahead to get into the Chapel and see Michelangelo's artwork on the ceiling.

But there were too many humans around and I had a taxi waiting to take me to the airport, so I had to turn around and say to myself: "I don't think too many people would be happy if I missed my flight."

I couldn't phone up and say 'I can't come to training on Wednesday because I'm still in Rome!' So I unfortunately missed out on that one, but I love St Peter's Square and it gives me an excuse to go back another time.

Maybe I could do the Amalfi coast as well. Everything is on the doorstep over here in Europe so you have to make the most of it with your down time. I may have a few weeks' holiday in June.

Wales team huddle
England coach Eddie Jones said Warren Gatland's current side are the greatest Wales team in history

Mind games and social media

I don't read too much of the headlines. I'm on Instagram and someone made me sign up to Twitter, but I only actually follow one person on there and I don't know how to use it properly.

I've only just worked out how to use Instagram Stories while we were away for this trip. Gareth Davies and Gareth Anscombe showed me how to do that and they say I'm flying on it now, which is good.

But when it comes to that kind of thing I don't read too much online. Sometimes, you can read things about a good game and it's nice but, when you have a bad game, you can have 99 good comments and one bad comment, but it's the one bad comment the you find frustrating really.

So I've always not read too much on Twitter. Everyone's got an opinion and that's good, but sometime you can read too much into it.

But I did see some of Eddie Jones' comments. Look, it's just Eddie Jones; he's a smart man. Warren Gatland's a smart man as well, so let's let those two have their verbals and the players can go out there and run into each other on 23 February.

You've just got to prepare well. Players all have their opinions and it's pretty interesting what people have to say in the build-up sometimes.

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

For the latest Welsh rugby news follow @BBCScrumV on Twitter.

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