RUGBY player-turned-adventurer Richard Parks will head back to Antarctica next month to complete a solo ski to the South Pole.

The former Newport Gwent Dragons rugby player will set off from Hercules Inlet for the 745-mile journey.

The expedition will be unsupported so Mr Parks will have to survive in some of the world's most hostile conditions on his own, pulling everything he needs on a sled weighing 11 to 13 stones, with no food drops or external support.

This will be the second time he has visited the region, having been there once before when completing his world-first 737 challenge in 2011.

He hopes to complete the journey within 40 days, but with safety contingencies and travel plans considered, the trip will be around seven weeks long.

The expedition will form a crucial part of the research and development for his next world first project, known only as Project X.

All details for the challenge set to take place in 2014 are top secret.

Mr Parks, from Newport, said: "Antarctica touched me deeply during the first leg of my 737 Challenge and has never left me, I feel very grateful and privileged to be able to go back.  It was an incredible moment for me to stand on the South Pole and to have the opportunity to return again is really exciting."

"It's not a race. Breaking records on this expedition is not my priority, my focus is getting there and getting back safely and enjoying the expedition - if I possibly can!"

The former flanker last year became the first man to climb the highest mountains on the world's seven continents, as well as the North Pole, South Pole and Everest in just seven months.