CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Evans providing some cheer amid gloom
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have suffered more than their fair share of injury misfortune already this season, but out of darkness comes light.
When the region reconvened after their summer holidays scrum-half Jonathan Evans would have been third in the pecking order.
A number 9 of undoubted talent, the young man from Bargoed had suffered from being as reliable as an Alfa Romeo.
Evans burst onto the scene at the Liberty Stadium in 2010 but since that date suffered a series of injury breakdowns.
The 20-year-old has never been short of admirers at the Dragons – nor at Bargoed, Pontypool or Newport, where he has played club rugby – but there was a growing feeling that he had to step up this season.
The door was ajar because Joe Bedford had gone under the knife in the summer, then it was wide open when Wayne Evans’ back flared up before the season opener against Zebre.
It was now or never for young Jonathan – and he has taken his chance.
Partly through necessity, Evans has bossed the number 9 jersey with deputy Liam Davies, on permit from Bedwas, frequently heading back to the changing rooms as an unused replacement.
With snappy service, the odd snipe and growing maturity, the experienced duo’s task of prising the start away from the young tyro is growing by the week.
While they have been on the treatment table, Evans has been making a real impression and has been one of the few plus points from a hugely disappointing start to the campaign.
And when you look at the quality of scrum-halves backing up Mike Phillips in the Wales squad, the carrot is there for his to keep on progressing.
Just keep your fingers crossed that Evans can steer clear of the injury misfortune that meant a bright prospect was faced by a make-or-break campaign.