NEWPORT Gwent Dragons scrum-half Jonathan Evans has signed a new two-year deal and has his sights trained on Wales’ Lloyd Williams after answering the doubters with a lively first half of the season.
The 20-year-old’s talent has never been in question but this season was make-or-break after injuries had blighted his progress.
A broken wrist and a torn hamstring meant that the youngster from Bargoed headed into the current campaign with question marks over his durability, having played just 13 times since making his regional debut in May, 2010.
So far, so good. He has made 18 appearances and will make his 13th start when he wears the number 9 jersey against London Wasps in the Amlin Challenge Cup this evening.
It is a run of games that is allowing Evans, who represented Wales Under-20s at the Junior World Championships last summer, to dream of Test honours.
And he feels that playing in the manner of his idol Dwayne Peel may aid his cause, providing an alternative to the battling manner of Mike Phillips and Tavis Knoyle.
“Dwayne has always been the player that I have enjoyed watching,” said Evans.
“I’d like to think that I am a similar style, although I’ve got a long way to go before I can be compared to him. He likes to get the ball away quickly and I suppose Lloyd Williams has taken that role with Wales.
“He is their go-to man when they need to pick up speed and he has the third scrum-half spot that most of us are looking to push for.”
Evans certainly impressed in the Dragons’ 25-22 defeat in Bayonne last week, making a number of lively breaks before that man Phillips broke their hearts late on.
Victory against Wasps – one of the form teams in Europe – would go a small way towards healing the pain of the loss in the south of France.
“We’d love to stop Wasps in their tracks and finish the campaign by beating one of the top teams,” said Evans.
“We have been analysing them and they have some strong players, especially in the back row, as well as a big pack and driving game.
“I’ve also been looking at the clips of (scrum-half) Joe Simpson and I wish I could score tries like he does – his one against London Welsh was like an under-12s game where one kid is quicker than everyone else, he just got the ball and ran around everybody!”