Jarrod Evans is determined to use the experience from Wales’ World Cup preparations to benefit the Cardiff Blues backline, with the start of the new Guinness PRO14 campaign fast approaching.
The 23-year-old playmaker narrowly missed out on a place in Warren Gatland’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, but did take his international caps tally to three, as he featured against England and Ireland in warm-up clashes.
However, the outside half is driven by the disappointment of missing the global showpiece and the extra responsibilities at his home region as he sets his sights on gaining further international honours in the near future
“It was tough news to take at the time, but I came back to the Cardiff Blues and they were really good to me and gave me a little bit of time off,” said Evans.
“But I’m just looking to get better and it’s more about how I respond and how I can make the Blues as good as they can be moving forward.
“We’ve got quite a young squad here and hopefully, at my age, my form will allow me to do better things on the international stage.
“Things have gone really well over the last year or two but this is a new season and it’s about making sure that I can run the side and I’m sure we can get off to a better start than we did last season.
“Chicken was really good here and was a good voice for me coming through.mBut now I have a little bit more responsibility and I really enjoy it so I’m looking forward to more of it this season.
“We need to get off to a better start, and not play catch up like we’ve done over the last couple of seasons.
“Those first four or five games will be key for us, and if we can get that right then hopefully we can creep up that table and get ourselves into the play-offs.
“I want to play the best that I can for the Blues, first and foremost, and after that hopefully I can get another chance on the international stage and see how things go from there.”
The warm-up clash against Ireland at Principality Stadium marked Evans’ first start on the international stage, and was joined in the line-up by debutants and fellow Cardiff Blues academy graduates, Owen Lane and Rhys Carre.
The pivot admits the gruelling summer fitness training was testing at times, but says the build-up to the clash against Ireland will live long in the memory.
Evans added: “It was tough, but every pre-season is tough, but some of those camps were really good experiences for me and it’s something that I want to bring back here to Cardiff Blues.
“The camps were as tough as I expected. I knew it was going to be hard, having spoken to a few boys beforehand.
“You went into some dark places but we’ll all be better for it throughout the season.
“It was a massive honour to lead the side during that week against, even though it was quite tough, with 14 changes made for that day.
“But getting to play for your country, and start for your country, it’s not every day you get the opportunity to do that.
“I was really thrilled to get my first start.You had Laney and Carré who picked up their first caps that day as well and it was good to get out there with a lot of boys that we know, and it made it a little bit easier out on the field.
“This season has come around pretty quick and all the boys have gone pretty well during pre-season.
“I haven’t had a great deal of time with the squad but it’s good to be back here and I’m really enjoying it.”
Evans is in South Africa with the Cardiff Blues squad, as they gear up for the Guinness PRO14 opener against Isuzu Southern Kings on Saturday.
After Wales’ World Cup campaign comes to an end, Evans will be joined by two fellow internationals in the backline, after Josh Adams and Hallam Amos agreed deals to link-up with Wales’ Capital Region for the upcoming campaign.
The outside half is excited to welcoming their quality into the side, and believe they will fit in seamlessly in a competitive back-three rank at Cardiff Arms Park, which also includes the likes of Owen Lane, Aled Summerhill, Jason Harries, Dan Fish and Matthew Morgan.
Evans said: “I’ve trained and player with Hallam and Josh prior to them arriving here so I’m really looking forward to seeing them coming back from the World Cup to play for the Blues.
“They’ll fit in really well with the squad and their World Cup selections speak for themselves in terms of the quality they’ll bring.
“Something that’s encouraged is for us to play the picture we’ve been given, and Hallam and Josh will fit into that.
“Josh had a great game against Georgia and you also had Tomos who came on to score a try and set one up.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them boys coming back and adding to the quality backline that we’ve already got.”