Blog Banner

Evans in familiar company for summer finale

International | 17th July 2021

Jarrod Evans will be in familiar company on Saturday as the outside half prepares to start alongside Cardiff half back partner, Tomos Williams, for the first time on the international stage.

The academy product takes over from Callum Sheedy in Wayne Pivac’s backline, having impressed from the bench in last week’s draw against Argentina.

The half back pairing are joined by a further seven of their Cardiff team-mates in the matchday 23 for the Principality Stadium clash, with Owen Lane, Hallam Amos and Willis Halaholo also among the backline options at Pivac's disposal.

Evans hopes Wales can benefit from the familiar club partnerships on show as they look to clinch the summer series against Los Pumas later today.

“It does make a difference,” said the Welsh international. “The big thing when you come up to the national set-up, because of the little time you have to prepare, is how quickly you can become a unit together and getting everyone singing off the same hymn sheet.

“The Blues boys are pretty comfortable together but combinations take longer than normal. So it’s about how quickly we can come together and be on the same page.

“Myself and Tomos have a fairly good relationship at the club and have played a lot of years and games together.

"There is a lot of cohesion between us and looking forward to trying to play the game we want to play but also negate what Argentina want to play. I am really excited for Saturday. 

"He is a class act and I have played with him for so many years now we are pretty much on the same page a lot of the time." 

Despite fine form in club colours, the playmaker has had to bide his time for an opportunity in the number 10 jersey for Wales.

Sharing the outside half duties with Bristol Bears' Callum Sheedy over the summer, the likes of Rhys Patchell and British & Irish Lion, Dan Biggar, are among the other players who have competed for the iconic shirt in recent seasons.

Evans also recognises the competition for places at club level, with the incoming Rhys Priestland set to add to Dai Young's outside half options for the season ahead, alongside the newly capped Ben Thomas and Jason Tovey.

With Matt Sherratt - an influential coach in Evans’ career - returning to Cardiff next season, the playmaker believes the constant competition for place has benefitted his personal game as he looks to carry momentum from his international campaign into the new season at the capital.

Evans explained: “It’s always healthy and competition for the number 10 jersey in Wales never really stops.

“Even next year, Cardiff Blues have gone on to sign Rhys Priestland and I think Sheeds has already alluded to the duels we’ve had going on for some years now.

“There were battles when he was with St Peter’s and I was with Pontyclun, so it has been driving us since we were nine or 10 years old.

“Like I say, it’s always healthy even if you don’t see that at the time. Any competition is good competition and it just drives you more. 

“It’s going to be massive for me to continue to get better, and that’s all you can ask for.

“I know how much of a quality coach Matt Sherratt is and obviously Rhys Priestland’s career speaks for itself.

“It’s also been good to see Ben Thomas up here and he’s been training really well. at 10 and 12. He’s been going really well.

“That competition is going to make everyone better and, whether it will be for club or country, we’re all pushing each other pretty hard.”

Having missed the opening summer Test against Canada through an ankle injury, Evans is excited for the opportunity to start on Saturday but knows he must stick to the game plan and resist the temptation to go off script in an effort to impress with the sensational.

"I am very excited. It's been brilliant since I have come into camp since the end of the Rainbow Cup. I have enjoyed and it's good to have a bit of responsibility with me and Sheeds as we normally would have with our clubs,” said Evans.

“[The injury] was a setback which happened in north Wales. It was an unusual one. It was a race against the clock and it was frustrating because I knew I was down to start that game. 

“Sometimes things don't go for you but I am lucky enough to get another opportunity and I came off the bench last week. 

"It is tough because I feel as if I have been quite patient. I have been here for a few campaigns for years now going back until the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

“It has been a bit of a patient one and they have given me things to work on and I would like to think I have got better in those areas. 

“With being a number 10 all sorts of types of kicks and keeping on top of things. Jenks and Steve has been brilliant in this past year in training and I am familiar with Dai Flanagan having spent tome at Pontypridd.

"We all have decent relationships and the best thing I can do is to keep on top of what I can do and questions on what I can improve.

“You don't know when your next game is going to come so you know what the temptation is. 

“It is about sticking to the process and the game plan and I have been speaking regularly to the coaches to see what they want from me about this game. 

“Balance is probably the key word because you don't want to go into your shell or off the script we have planned all week either. 

“[This game] is important for my development, not only me but the other boys in the squad from these sort of games. 

“It was only my second start and the experience you get against an Argentina side who we know what they brought to the Rugby Championship as of late. It is a big opportunity for some of these boys and I can only see benefits coming from that.”