No doubting Thomas, but Dai reveals how he nearly had to snub his own son!
HE is one of the most consistent players in Welsh rugby, a virtual ever-present who never lets his region down and bangs in performances with the consistency of a top darts player unerringly finding the treble 20 bed.
Dan Evans rarely gets injured, is a dangerous counter-attacker who has made 14 clean breaks in the Guinness Pro12 this season and 882 metres with ball in hand — that’s more than half a mile, in old money — and he kicks like a dream. But, how shall we put this? To adapt a phrase from the movies, Wales just don’t seem that into him. And Evans knows it. He knows it because he has been repeatedly knocked back in nationalsquad selection.
In the autumn, his fine form went unrewarded as the selectors opted for the tried-and-tested Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams to cover the No. 15 position.
Last summer, they interrupted Rhys Patchell’s plans for a golfing holiday to summon the then Blues man to play out of position at full-back against New Zealand, with Williams switching to wing and Halfpenny out injured.
They used Gareth Anscombe at the back when both Williams and Halfpenny were off limits during the World Cup.
And Matthew Morgan has also had a try.
Little wonder it has left Evans feeling more than a bit perplexed.
He was asked if any of the Wales management had been in touch — you know, to let him know what he needed to improve on, to urge him to keep up the good work and reassure him that he hadn’t been forgotten, blah, blah, blah. Er, no.
“I haven’t spoken to any of them,” said the 27-year-old, who won his only two caps on Wales’s tour of North America in 2009.
“They just don’t like me and it’s something I have to deal with.
“I’ve upset the wrong person maybe.
“You’ll have to ask them what their opinion of me is.
“I suppose you can get a bit frustrated.
“Even when they (Halfpenny and Williams) were out injured, I still wasn’t being picked.
“So it’s not just Leigh and Liam in front of me. “Maybe I should be there, but I’m not.
“It’s nothing I get too bogged down about.
“My full focus is on the Ospreys and I’m happy to do that. “
Wales’ loss is the Ospreys’ gain, for it means that Evans tends to be around during international windows. In fact, he’s rarely not around. He has played in every league game since he arrived at the region two-anda-half years ago and missed just one European date. If he’s not in the mix on match day, it’s time to send out a search party.
The festive period saw him switch roles, with Sam Davies lining up at fullback and Evans moving to wing.
“I hadn’t played there for a while, but they were derby games and as long as I was on the park I was happy,” he said.
“I enjoyed it. The Dragons game wasn’t free flowing but it’s been a good couple of weeks and it was nice being back at 15 against Connacht.”
Evans hopes the Ospreys can clinch a European Challenge Cup quarterfinal place when they host Lyon in Swansea on Sunday.
“We’re well-placed in all competitions we are in,” he said.
“But it’s not about taking our foot off the pedal.
“It’s heading towards the business end of the season and making sure we drive through.
“Lyon are a big, physical team who gave us a tough game out there. We’re expecting more of the same this weekend.” HE’S been hailed ‘outstanding and one of the revelations of the Aviva Premiership season’ by 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward and has current England supremo Eddie Jones lamenting the flanker being born in Merthyr and not Manchester.
But Wasps director of rugby Dai Young has revealed how son Thomas very nearly didn’t become a leading light of the English club scene this season because he was part of the family.
Former Wales captain and Blues coach Dai has worked rugby miracles with the Ricoh Arena outfit, dragging them up by their bootstraps to stand top of the Premiership table.
And in recent times, son Thomas has become an influential figure in the rise and rise of Wasps with his latest display against Leicester Tigers last weekend earning the 24-year-old another Aviva Premiership man-of-the-match award.
But two years ago when Young was looking to bolster his back-row department his son, who was coming to the end of a short-term deal with Gloucester having been released early by the Cardiff Blues, was one of four options up for debate.
And sensibly fearing a conflict of interest the ex-Lions tighthead prop passed the buck.
“I told the owner, Derek Richardson, that there were four names in the frame and that the best of them was a lad called Thomas Young,” recalls Young.
“He was cheap, he was available but he was my son. His call,” Dai told the Daily Telegraph.
“I did say that if anyone on the Wasps board thought I’d ever be conflicted that it wouldn’t be an issue and we’d just look elsewhere.
“Of course, I hesitated about even putting Thomas’ name forward in the first place.
“It’s only human nature that people would look at the situation and think that Thomas was only here because of his dad. I know I would. “It’s not an easy thing, is it? “If someone can completely divorce father and son feelings when it comes to things like this, then they are a better man than me.”
It’s certainly a move that has paid huge dividends with Thomas picking up three man-of-thematch awards in the last six games to press his claims for a first inclusion in a Wales Six Nations Championship squad when caretaker coach Rob Howley names his line-up next Tuesday.