9:02am Thursday 16th January 2014
SCRUM-HALF Jonathan Evans is determined to not waste a golden chance to turn around his season when he starts for Newport Gwent Dragons in Mogliano this evening.
The 21-year-old has endured a frustrating campaign after a stellar 2012/13 that saw him make 29 lively appearances win the accolade of Argus readers' player of the year.
Evans was unlucky to miss out on Wales' tour to Japan but a summer of watching rugby from the sofa has been followed by a first half of the season watching plenty of it from the sidelines.
New signing Richie Rees was given the nod at the start of the season and took his chance to impress with Evans limited to cameos off the bench.
Then his hopes of putting the pressure on Rees suffered a blow on his third start of the campaign in November when he got trapped at the bottom of a ruck in the LV= Cup encounter with Wasps and suffered a shoulder injury.
But with tonight's encounter followed by Anglo-Welsh tussles with Northampton and Newcastle, Evans has a chance to get back on track.
And the scrum-half is champing at the bit to earn the number 9 jersey when the RaboDirect Pro12 returns with a meeting with Edinburgh at Rodney Parade on February 9.
"I haven't had as many opportunities as I would have liked so I have a lot to prove," said Evans.
"It's been frustrating and want to be back in that team – my aim is to finish the season strongly and maybe prove a point to Lyn going into the next one.
"This game is a strange one because it's hard to compare performances between Mogliano and Bath; is a good one against Mogliano better than an average one against Bath?
"But I just have to concentrate on my own game. There is nothing we can play for in terms of silverware but there is plenty we can play for in terms of building as a team and as individuals.
"We won't take anything for granted and we just have to go out and build towards a big game against Northampton (with qualification still possible)."
Evans has completed a Gwent grand slam of Premiership teams while working his way back to fitness.
He featured for Newport in pre-season, Bedwas on Boxing Day and Cross Keys against Ealing in the British and Irish Cup last weekend.
That encounter against English opposition saved him a potentially tricky homecoming for Bedwas at Bargoed.
"It was nice to play behind a really good Cross Keys pack," he said. "Ealing weren't perhaps as good as I thought they might be but it was nice to get some game time."
But a fine showing against Mogliano and in the LV= Cup should ensure that Premiership outings are kept to a minimum.
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