No doubt­ing Thomas, but Dai re­veals how he nearly had to snub his own son!

South Wales Echo - - RUGBY UNION -

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.

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