British & Irish Lions
Momentum fluctuating but Parling flourishing
Tom Hamilton in Melbourne
June 24, 2013
Hearing from Geoff Parling on Sunday was one of the highlights of the tour © Getty Images
Remind me never to stick my neck out and declare a British & Irish Lions tour to be going in the way of the tourists. It all seemed to be going so well, then James Horwill somehow managed to avoid punishment for his boot on Alun Wyn-Jones' head and Paul O'Connell goes and gets himself ruled out of the rest of the tour with a broken arm.
That cruel pendulum of fate currently has a green and gold aura about it. They have Horwill available while Christian Leali'ifano and Berrick Barnes look to have recovered from their respective knocks.
But from a Lions' point-of-view, the injury-related focus is back on the pack. They are sweating on Alex Corbsiero's fitness for Saturday's game while Warren Gatland now has to work out just who he wants to partner Alun-Wyn Jones. The chosen man looks to be Geoff Parling.
Parling was planning to lead the Lions out against the Melbourne Rebels on Tuesday night. But that has changed. He has been withdrawn from selection and he looks set to start in Saturday's game against Australia.
It has been a whirlwind few days for the England lock. On Thursday his wife Elle gave birth to his second child, May Rose. On Saturday he won his first Lions Test cap. On Sunday, when we were still in Brisbane, Parling sat in front of the writers' portion of the media and spoke about his crazy few days.
"I followed the birth on FaceTime and Skype," Parling told us. "What an invention. Just beforehand my wife was in the room ready and the midwife came in and I said, 'Please just put me in the corner, I will just watch and be quiet,' and the midwife actually turned it off.
"I was pacing around the 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."
Returning to England was an option for Parling, but he opted to stay with the Lions, although he did concede there was "a little bit of guilt".
"We did think about it, but these sort of opportunities don't come around very often," Parling said. "Neither does having a kid, to be fair. Thankfully, my wife is very understanding. She has got her aunt and uncle looking after her, and some neighbours who are good as well.
"It's been a surreal week. I am just very relieved she is fit and healthy. Everyone is saying I should have called the baby Matilda. It's been a great week, quite surreal, to be fair. The most important thing for me was that she was fit and healthy."
Two days later and Parling was on the bench for the Lions, though nothing is quite sinking in for the lock quite yet. "I spoke to Dan Cole afterwards and I said, 'I've just had a healthy daughter and we've just won a Test in Australia but it doesn't feel like that'. Does that make sense? It was almost like we'd lost. It was focused I'd say, very focused."
So while the recent swing in fate seems to be going against the Lions, Parling seems to be flourishing against the tide. Come Saturday, there is every chance his wife Elle and their two children will be sitting in their house in Leicester watching their father/ husband starting for the Lions against Australia.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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