Interview: Max Evans, Scotland winger
FOLLOWING the team’s historic victory over Australia, the Scotland squad’s officials in Manly are keen to remind everyone that there is a job still to be done and that no-one is here on holiday. They have their work cut out.
Just minutes after the media manager issued instructions to include a rugby ball in any photograph of a player, just to remind everyone why the team are here, Nick De Luca and Greig Laidlaw marched through the lobby of the team hotel carrying an assortment of surf and boogie boards and heading straight for Manly’s magnificent beach, which is situated right across the road. They probably wondered what all the laughter was about.
Max Evans may boast a surfer’s physique but the little winger has his mind on other things at the moment because, only joining up with the squad on Wednesday, he is playing catch up in an all too literal sense, having missed out on Tuesday’s night’s victory. Instead of being involved in Newcastle’s wet win, Evans found himself the victim of a tug o’war between the SRU and his French club Castres who wanted, and got him, for their Top 14 semi-final against Toulouse at the weekend.
Despite the Scots’ best efforts, with one scorching break coming close to creating a try, Castres’ defeat to their local rivals left him free to lend his weight to Scotland’s cause and, in doing so, give Andy Robinson an almighty selection headache since Tim Visser is also in the mix. But, if you presumed that the elder of the Evans brothers was joining a national squad that had been bound much tighter together by that famous victory, you presumed wrong.
“Not really,” replied Evans in response to the question. “It’s just the same as it was. There was a lot of confidence at the beginning of the Six Nations going into that tournament. There is a good bond between all the guys generally all the time. You know, I have a lot of friends in the team so it was just really good to see them and everyone was in a good mood. They might have been a bit down if it had been a loss the other day but I think it would have been just as exciting to see each other.”
By his own admission Evans has taken time finding his feet in France after quitting Glasgow simply because the club were unable to offer him a new contract in timely fashion (under the old SRU regime rather than the current one).
Initially, the language barrier proved a problem – Evans admits that he has no idea why the Castres coaches play him at centre rather than wing simply because he has yet to ask the question. The rugby in France, he thinks, is much the same as top-class,professional rugby the world over but Evans is excited by the presence of so many marquee names in the Top 14.
“In terms of the type of rugby its been pretty similar. It’s just been a little bit difficult in the beginning.
“It’s not like you’re just playing your own game but trying to get an understanding of how the team are playing rather than being just completely comfortable like I was at Glasgow, just knowing how things would be.
“I couldn’t say it [the rugby] was better or not better. I’d definitely feel that when I look at the opposition teamsheets that there is always a player, or more than one player, that I am up against that I just can’t wait to be on the same field as. There are a lot of players in the Top 14 from the All Blacks, the Springboks or even the international teams from Europe that I haven’t come up against yet, that’s what’s been really great this season.
One of the marquee players that Evans mentions plays alongside him in the Castres squad. Seremaia Bai is a former Fijian skipper who can play stand-off or centre and, while he hasn’t said much about the forthcoming Test against Scotland, Evans reveals that the Fijian forked out some sizeable excess baggage fees when he flew back to his homeland to join up with the rest of the squad.
“Seremaia said that it is very difficult for kids and guys who want to get into rugby to afford boots and even training kit. So what he did was leave three big cardboard boxes in the [Castres] changing rooms and he just asked us to leave any kit or boots that we were done with in the boxes. We just chuck them in and he takes them all over.
“We’re hoping to maybe meet up with him because I gave him a whole load of boots. It’s probably easier to give it to him because he brings a bunch of stuff over so I’m hoping to meet up with him to almost do the hand over, which will be quite nice. He takes four or five boxes of stuff over.”
Evans also revealed that Scotland’s players have done something similar so Fijians will be sporting Castres and Glasgow/Edinburgh gear in the near future. It might even inspire some of them to head for Scotland like the current Fijian skipper, Edinburgh’s No 8 Netani Talei.
Evans insists he is in good shape after peaking for the French play-offs and, while hoping for a place in the team against Fiji, he is only too aware that there is fierce competition for places and nowhere more so than wing. “Selection is out of my hands. That’s for the coaches to decide.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west