Evans overjoyed at Wales return
December 4, 2011
Ian Evans makes a break during his return to the Wales team © Getty Images
Ian Evans put three years of injury hell behind him with his return to Wales colours against Australia, and he admitted: "They were not pretty times."
The Ospreys lock's international comeback inevitably paled in comparison with Shane Williams' emotional Wales farewell, but it still represented a considerable triumph over adversity. Evans had last played for Wales in November 2008 before he was struck down by a debilitating list of injuries, notably knee, chest and ankle problems.
While the 27-year-old endured many physically-gruelling and mentally-punishing days on a long road back to Test status, other players moved ahead of him to establish themselves in coach Warren Gatland's Wales squad.
Evans, though, refused to throw in the towel, and that persistence has paid off, gaining a Wales recall just two months before this season's Six Nations campaign swings into action.
"I was happy with my performance," the Johannesburg-born forward said. "It was emotional for me, but I tried to keep focussed on the game. It was probably the greatest day of my life coming back after three long years and proving to myself I could do it and to other people who doubted me.
"They were not pretty times, but people stuck by me and I can't thank them enough, really. I have had tremendous support from the Ospreys - the physiotherapy department and the coaching department - and from my family.
"This was a big mountain for me to climb. You only get one chance and you have got to take it. Hopefully, I have done that and put my hand up a little bit."
Wales played 41 Tests between Evans' 16th and 17th international appearances, and he admitted: "The pace of the game has moved on, and with how clinical it now is. If you make a mistake and the opposition get the ball, they are more or less getting points from it. It drains your energy.
"I am only 27, and yet I felt I quite old in that (Wales) team. It is very exciting when you see these young players coming in. They are so physically big, so powerful and fast, it's unbelievable. I think the future is bright and exciting."
Perhaps the one constant during Evans' time away were the world-class performances churned out by his Ospreys colleague Williams, and Evans joined a long list of players and coaches in saluting a memorable Test match career following Wales' 24-18 Millennium Stadium loss to Australia.
"Shane is one of the few people that can change a game by creating things out of nothing. He is special," Evans added. "What he has done for Welsh rugby is fantastic. How many youngsters have probably got into rugby because they have seen him side-stepping? He deserves every accolade he gets and hats off to him."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic