Geoff Parling wants to cap a remarkable week by leading the British & Irish Lions to victory over the Melbourne Rebels on Tuesday night.
The Leicester lock will skipper the side for the first time at AAMI Park just three days after playing his part in a thrilling first Test win over the Qantas Wallabies.
Parling came off the bench in Brisbane as the Lions secured a nail-biting 23-21 success at the Suncorp Stadium but that Test win with Britain and Ireland’s might not have even been his most memorable achievement of the last few days.
The 29-year-old became a father for the second time in the lead up to the first international, with wife Elle giving birth to daughter May back home in England.
"It's been a great week, quite surreal, to be fair,” said Parling, who attempted to be with his wife every step of the way even though he was on one side of the globe and she was on the other.
“I've got some making up to do when I get back, to be fair. I followed it on Face Time and Skype – what an invention! Just beforehand she was in the room ready – she had a C section – and the midwife came in and I said 'please just put me in the corner, I’ll just watch and be quiet'. But the midwife actually turned me off!
“I was pacing around my room for about an hour, quite nervous to be honest because you never know how it is going to go. Then I got Facetimed again, and I heard someone laughing, so as soon as I heard that I knew everything was fine. There is a little bit of guilt there, but I am just very relieved she is fit and healthy.”
Following that drama up with 80 minutes more tension at the Suncorp Stadium can’t have been easy but a win’s a win however it comes about as far as Parling is concerned.
But it’s not as is if he can now rest easy, at least not on the rugby front anyway. While he’s relieved to know that Elle and May are both doing well, his attentions now turn to making sure the Lions’ build on the momentum they gained in Brisbane.
A seventh win in eight games would be a huge boost to Warren Gatland’s troops ahead of the next international instalment but Parling knows it would also do his own hopes of starting the second Test no harm at all.
And even though the Lions are flying to Melbourne on a high given what happened in Queensland, the new captain insists there is no chance of any complacency creeping into their game on their final mid-week outing.
“I don’t think there’s any chance of that happening, not if you’d have been in the changing room and the hotel after Saturday. I spoke to Coley (Dan Cole) and I was like ‘I’ve just had a healthy daughter and we’ve just won a Test in Australia but it didn’t feel like that’. It was almost like we’d lost. It was focussed I’d say, very focussed,” added Parling.
“It’s obviously important to keep the momentum going. The last mid-week game didn’t go to plan so we’ve got a bit of a point to prove. I’m very pleased to be starting on Tuesday. No-one likes to be on the bench, no matter what sort of game it is and how big it is. You want to start and be involved. This game is probably my last chance to try and force my way into the Test team. I don’t think I need any more motivation than that.”
“You’re only going to press your claim if the team does well. If the team plays poorly, there’s not a chance you’re going to get in that Test side. It’s a big opportunity for the guys. You’re pulling on that shirt again, no matter if it’s a Test game or not. For the guys who haven’t had as much game time as they would have liked, it’s a massive opportunity.”