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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Parker goes big in Japan
By Matt Majendie

A typical Tokyo scene
Parker has revelled in life in Tokyo
Alphaville could have easily had Adam Parker in mind when they penned the hit Big in Japan.

At 6ft 4ins, the New Zealand-born lock is verging on the status of a giant among men in the Japanese capital.

And, despite hailing from Christchurch in New Zealand's picturesque south Island, the 30-year-old will be cheered on with relish at the World Cup.

Parker is one of four Kiwis in the Japanese squad, having qualified for the national side after playing for three years for company side Toshiba on Japanese soil.

He told the BBC Sport website: "I don't consider myself Japanese at all. I'm a Kiwi playing in Japan. I'm a Kiwi through and through.

"But that doesn't mean I find it weird putting on the Japanese jersey. It obviously feels different to putting on the All Black jersey, but I still relish it."

When Parker decided to make the move from New Zealand as a 25-year-old, he arrived without a word of Japanese up his sleeve.

"It was difficult embracing a new culture and learning a new language," he said, "but I wanted to do that and travel, which was one of the reasons for my move.

"Despite that, the real reason was money. The money offered here was good so, to be brutally honest, that was what sealed it."

PARKER FACTFILE
DOB: 21/4/73
Position: Lock
Test caps: Eight
Test points: 10
Club: Toshiba

Parker was snapped up by Japanese electronics giant Toshiba to play in Japan's companies league but he did not expect it to run smoothly.

"I decided to prepare myself for the worse," he said. "But it wasn't at all bad."

That said, the transition from Christchurch, with its population of 322,000, to a 28m-strong Tokyo was a little bewildering.

He said: "Compared to Christchurch it was crazy. You could not get two places more worlds apart."

And the rugby culture is different as well.

"There's not the idea of going out for beers after a game as there is back in New Zealand," he said.

A recent two-week spell back at home immersed him in his former culture before the national team got together for their final training sessions.

But by then things had not been going well, with the Japanese overwhelmed by the United States and Russia, who did not even qualify for the World Cup.

"Our results have been disappointing and I don't know why," said Parker. "We're a better side than that on paper.

I'd like to convince people we can win all four games but I don't think I'd even convince myself
Adam Parker on Japan's World Cup ambitions

"Some things need to change. For example, half of the team shy away from contact and really getting stuck in at a ruck.

"It's not something that's really pursued at company level, so many of them are not even prepared for it come the internationals.

"But, if we play to our potential, we should pick up at least one win and maybe even two."

The United States look their likeliest scalp in Pool A, with Fiji also a possibility. Scotland and France, however, both look trips too far.

Parker added: "I'd like to convince people we can win all four games but I don't think I'd even convince myself.

"We've got good pace and can play some good rugby. We'll be disappointed not to win at least one."





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