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'Pretty dark moments': Ex-All Black Nick Evans explains why the time wasn't right to succeed Paul Gustard and become a Premiership head of rugby

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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Harlequins assistant Nick Evans has explained why the time wasn’t right for him to put his name forward for the head of rugby vacancy at the London club created by the January departure of Paul Gustard. General manager Billy Millard has reported that the position will be filled in the next few weeks following a lengthy process.  


We have taken our time and we are at the pointy end now,” said Millard the other week. “Definitely, within a couple of weeks, we are hoping we will have the announcement but we are just at the back-end of it now. We’re expecting a new body in the building from outside the building.”

Why that new body won’t hail from inside the building is something Evans, the 40-year-old ex-All Blacks out-half who played for Harlequins for nine seasons before moving into coaching in 2017 at the Gallagher Premiership club, has now shed light on. 

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“It definitely wasn’t something I looked to apply for,” he said. “I’m not quite there yet. It’s something definitely in the future that I would like to explore. I just think I have got a lot of growth. I said to Marcus (Smith) he is pretty good at self-awareness and it’s probably one of my strengths as well. 

“I took the attack job ten days before the start of the season a few years ago and I found that really tough. I’d some pretty dark moments in that I felt like a bit of an imposter and I have kind of worked through that, so I want to make sure I’m pretty prepared to take a role like that as a head coach.

“At the moment my job is to be on the ground with the troops and get the best out of the players and create an amazing attacking environment and create an entertainment value that Quins fans can look at and go, ‘Yeah, that is our team’. At the moment that is what I’m focusing on. In the future, yeah, definitely it is something that I would like to explore.”


Asked to elaborate on those dark moments during the baby steps of his coaching career, Evans added: “It’s the old imposter syndrome. I’d been the skills coach and used to go home and was, ‘Am I creating this, am I helping that player, am I doing the best here, am I good enough?’ These kinds of self-doubts. 

“I’d like to think I’m a pretty strong person mentally – I had to be to be a 10 at the top level but even at times in the coaching role so soon after coming out of playing with a group that I played ten years with, you can get a lot of self-doubts. 

“I went through some periods with that but again the environment here was brilliant, family, friends and stuff, and actually the players around were really good too. They had respect for me so it just allowed me to get on with my job and create an environment that they loved and enjoyed coming to training to be around. That allowed me to get a bit more confidence.”



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