A FORMER Warrington Wolves player with a passion for all things rugby has been handpicked to support the nation’s team when they embark on their tour of New Zealand in May.
Neil Parsley, who shared his debut day alongside Allan Langer, Tawera Nikau, Andrew Gee and Steve Blakeley in a Challenge Cup tie at Hunslet Hawks in 2000, has a wealth of experience when it comes to both codes of the sport but it is rugby union that will grab his attention this summer when he works as part of England Rugby’s performance team.
The former champion of television programme Gladiators, a full back who joined Wolves after four seasons at Lancashire Lynx, has spent 15 years working as a strength and conditioning coach, helping a variety of teams including Great Britain’s Olympic taekwondo team in 2012.
But it is his latest appointment that the 39-year-old former Hoylake rugby union player describes as a ‘dream come true’.
“I finished the Olympics with the taekwondo team and at that time the England Rugby team had a bit of a change around in the athletic development department and I was sort of headhunted,” explained Neil, who lives in Wirral with his wife Louise and three children.
“I started doing their strength and conditioning last year and it has gone really well.
“After the Six Nations they asked me to go to the toughest place you can go on their summer tour – New Zealand – where they’re going to play three games against the All Blacks.”
Despite having a passion for rugby league, Neil says he is ‘made up’ to be taking part with the country’s union side.
He added: “They are playing really well at the moment and they only just missed out on the Six Nations.
“It is really exciting and the whole team and staff really seem to be on the up.
“Just to be a part of it, especially with rugby being my thing, is fantastic.
“I’m pretty made up - for a strength and conditioning coach, it’s just pretty amazing and to go on tour to New Zealand will be absolutely fantastic – I’m absolutely buzzing.”
The 6ft 2in Parsley was Wolves’ fastest in sprint training ahead of the 2000 season as he made the step up from Championship level under Darryl Van de Velde but his appearances were restricted to the one Challenge Cup contest.