Parks voted Scots' player of World Cup by his peers

SCOTLAND'S recent reliance on kicking may have attracted critics after last week's Rugby World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Argentina, but the accuracy of stand-off Dan Parks in executing it has attracted the highest praise of his peers.

The Glasgow No 10 was voted 'Player of the World Cup' by the Scotland squad in their own poll, revealed yesterday by the SRU.

The 29-year-old played in all five matches after coming off the bench against New Zealand at Murrayfield when Chris Paterson was injured early in the game, and his consistency throughout ensured he always figured among each game's top choices.

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Parks kicked six long-range goals from seven attempts during the tournament, falling just behind Paterson's 100 per cent kicking display, and scored his fourth Scotland try in the opening pool victory over Portugal in Saint-Etienne.

A strange celebration after that touchdown also won the fly-half an X-Box 360 from an Australian TV sports show.

It was the result of Scotland's game-plan, and the tactical switch of Scotland head coach Frank Hadden before the tournament, that Parks emerged as a leading figure in the team.

He appeared to be on the fringes of the squad only a month before the tournament when Hadden opted for Paterson at stand-off in the warm-up encounters with Ireland and South Africa at Murrayfield and Parks, unable to cover any other position, could not even win a place on the bench.

However, appearing to cast that as a failed experiment, Hadden reverted to a more kicking-orientated style, as opposed to Paterson's running approach, and handed Parks the pivot's reins when the tournament began.

Taking his tally to 37 caps and 89 points by the end of Scotland's involvement in the Stade de France last Sunday, the Australian-born player was sublime in kicking for territory, even moving the coach to say he felt Parks was the best kicker from hand in world rugby.

All players in the Scotland squad voted for their top performer after each game and the runner-up was full-back Rory Lamont, the Sale full-back, while third place went to No 8 Simon Taylor, the former Edinburgh No 8 now with Stade Francais.

The Famous Grouse, Scotland's national team sponsor until the end of this month, also runs an award, voted on by the Scottish media, and Parks will face strong competition from Lamont and Paterson, in particular, for that title.

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