Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CARDIFF, 17 September - Just to play an IRB Rugby World Cup match would represent a victory for injury-plagued Wales second row Ian Evans.

Evans, 22, jumped out of the blocks in Test rugby, scoring a try on debut against Argentina in 2006.

But he managed just four more matches before a dislocated shoulder in December sidelined him until early August when he suffered a collarbone injury in training and returned to the casualty list. Until now.

"When I first got injured it was inconceivable that I'd be here in France," Evans said.

"It's been a long road but I've finally got here. To make the field would just top it off."

Repaying the faith

Wales play Japan at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday and the 203cm forward is hopeful of wearing the number five jersey.

"Physically I'm in the best shape of my career," he said. "Obviously there is some pressure to repay the coaches for the faith they have shown in me but I have no doubts about myself whatsoever."

Evans, who spent the first five years of his life in South Africa, has made the gym his second home over the past 10 months.

"Probably the worst thing is training by yourself in the gym, away from all your team-mates. It's a lonely world," he admitted.

With this in mind, Evans has vowed not to let the opportunity slip should he be selected for Thursday's crucial encounter.

"After 10 months I'm sick of the sight of the gym. I'm ready to play some rugby."

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