A FORMER Worthing Rugby Club player is celebrating after earning a professional contract last week.
Perry-John Parker, aged 24, has signed for Scottish side Edinburgh who play in the RaboDirect Pro12 League, formerly known as the Celtic League & Magners League, involving sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
Ex-Chatsmore School student Parker, who played for Worthing from the age off 11 until he was 18, penned a two-year deal with Edinburgh last Wednesday, joining from English Championship side Esher, where he played for just one season after captaining Sussex side Haywards Heath.
The 6ft 8in lock made his first-team debut for Raiders at the age of 17 and spent 18 months at the club before going to university and eventually joining Hassocks, where he then moved onto Haywards Heath, from where he was also captain of Sussex.
But, after being snapped up by Esher it took just a season for more scouts to come calling and he is relishing the opportunity of turning professional.
Parker said: “It’s a great feeling, really, really good. It’s taken a while to get here.
“Obviously, it’s a big step, but I feel I’m ready for it. Going from Haywards Heath to Esher was a massive step into the Championship, but it has helped give me that experience of the level.
“It will be a lot more open style of rugby. The Pro12 League has a lot less set pieces, so it will really suit my running style of rugby.”
The lock’s contract will see him start at the club next season, and the former fashion designer will start pre-season training in June.
“June 15 is when I go up for pre-season and I am chomping at the bit,” he said.
“I have got to sort my flat out and then I can’t wait to get there and meet everyone as I haven’t met any of the lads yet, but I am sure it’ll all be fine.
“I have played rugby all my life, but left it a little when I went to uni, I suppose I became a little dried out, but by the time I left I had fallen back in love with it again.
“I think I have gone about it the right way, getting my degree then I have something to fall back on later in my career.”
The former Worthing player still keeps in contact with a number of players, including Matt Farnes and team manager David Hinchliffe and has been impressed with the Roundstone Lane club’s season and the way the club is going.
On his own future, he is taking one step at a time, but admitted playing for his country would be a dream.
He added: “Any sort of international call-up would be great, but my first hurdle is to get my jersey at Edinburgh, that’s the main thing at the moment, but, yeah, it would be a dream and is always in the back of your mind.”
Parker was one of two Edinburgh signings last week as he joined along with Scottish under-20 second-row forward Robert McAlpine, and the club’s head coach spoke highly of the duo.
Michael Bradley said: “While we’ll continue to refine the expansive, attacking play for which the club is famous.
“We’re keen to introduce a harder, more aggressive edge to our play, and believe this pair will work tirelessly to lay the platform from which our back division can play.”