Popular Blues hooker James Parsons will become the latest New Zealand player to make 100 Investec Super Rugby appearances when he runs out against the Hurricanes on Friday night.
Parsons will bring up his milestone in front of his home fans at Eden Park in Auckland where he has forged a reputation as one of the club’s most consistent performers since making his Blues debut in 2012.
“This means a lot to me and my family. I am not the most naturally talented rugby player. I’ve got to where I am by hard work day-in, day-out.
“I pride myself on loyalty. It’s a characteristic I value a lot. I think it comes back to how passionate you are about places you represent, and everyone knows I’m passionate about Harbour and the Blues,” said Parsons.
“If you are happy, you’ll play your best footy and I really love this environment. It’s great to come to work every day and then get out on the field and put your body on the line.”
The 32-year-old two-Test All Black will receive a specially made pounamu mere from Blues legend and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) Board member Sir Michael Jones at the conclusion of Friday’s match. The mere is the traditional NZR gift to players who reach 100 competition games for New Zealand teams.
Parsons is just the sixth Blues player – joining Keven Mealamu (164), Jerome Kaino (139), Tony Woodcock (137), Ali Williams (102) and John Afoa (101) – to earn 100 caps for his club.
The King’s College old-boy’s Blues career has also included captaining the team during two non-Investec Super Rugby matches against France (2013) and the British and Irish Lions (2017).
Blues Head Coach Leon MacDonald said:
“His work ethic is outstanding. He’s a diligent guy, a proud Blues man and this is a proud moment for him. He has got the most out of his game, and it also a very smart footballer and a real leader in our team.
“It is also important as our game gets younger that someone like James had decided to stay with the Blues for a further two years and will play an invaluable role in helping develop our young players.”
Parsons who began his Super Rugby career against the Highlanders in 2012 and his loyalty to the Blues means he is currently playing his eighth season for the club.
His rugby career began with King’s College and then the Takapuna Rugby Club, played his provincial rugby for North Harbour since 2009 where he is also a centurion, and played two Tests for the All Blacks, against Scotland in Edinburgh in 2014 and Australia in Wellington in 2016.
NZR Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said:
“Players like James Parsons are a big part of what keeps New Zealand rugby and Investec Super Rugby strong and it’s impossible not to admire his dedication, commitment and loyalty. He’s been incredibly consistent over a long period of time and it’s fitting that his service will be recognised at Eden Park on Saturday.”
Blues Chief Executive Michael Redman said:
“While this is a professional sport, James has shown that passion is still a vital factor in this game. He has real longevity in the sport because he has been a quintessential professional. He also gives back in other areas of the game, as a Board member for the New Zealand Rugby Players Association; he is guest-host on a weekly show on Radio Sport and gives freely and professionally in support of our sponsors.”