DRAGONS v BLUES (Tonight, KO 6.30)
THERE will be no need for a Churchillian speech from Lewis Evans when he captains Newport Gwent Dragons this evening – his charges will already be foaming at the mouth.
The region play their biggest home game of the season tonight when closest foes Cardiff Blues visit Rodney Parade in the RaboDirect Pro12.
It may only be mid-September but it is a game that could have huge implications in the race for Heineken Cup rugby.
A ferocious encounter is inevitable and openside Evans will be in the thick of the action in his first start of the season following a calf injury.
The 25-year-old has never been captain before – even at junior level with Newport High School Old Boys it was his close pal Ashley Smith that was skipper – but he insists it’s business as usual
“You don’t need any motivational talks for this game – the boys will all be fired up and itching to get out there,” he said.
“I’ve seen Andrew Coombs, Steve Jones and Jevon Groves leading the side while I’ve been out and it’s been frustrating but I’ve certainly picked a good game to come back for.
“I’ll try and learn from Luke Charteris and do what he did so well as captain, he said the right things at the right time and
that is key.
“But I’m not going to suddenly turn into a big speaker, especially not tonight. We are playing the Blues at home in a big derby game… say no more.”
Evans made his comeback as a replacement in last week’s 45-25 loss to European champions Leinster in Dublin.
And his first start throws him in at the deep end – he will be battling Wales captain and turnover king Sam Warburton at the contact area.
“It’s going to be a great challenge and whenever we have won these big games, like the Ospreys and Blues last year, the breakdown was the main area that we focused on,” said Evans.
“If we come out on top there then we win the game and we have to be ruthless because Sam is a massive threat.
“I’ve been chatting to his best mate Dan Lydiate to see what strategies can help me but while they have Sam we have the other two Wales back rowers (Lydiate and Toby Faletau).
“I am sure they will be just as devastating tackling and ball carrying as he is at the contact area, so as long as I do my fair share we should be all right.”