New All Black Gareth Evans couldn’t believe the news when he found out he was going to Japan.
The loose forward was named in Steve Hansen’s 19-man wider training group to travel with the All Blacks and play the first two tests of the end-of-year tour.
Evans said he was having lunch when he started getting messages from Hawke’s Bay teammates.
“I like tried to look on the internet but couldn’t see anything and then 20 minutes to 30 minutes later,” Evans said in an interview with Radio Sport.
“I got a text from my manager and I thought it was one of my teammates pranking me but then I got an email and it started sinking in.”
The 27-year-old had an impressive first season with the Hurricanes this year, joining the franchise after three years and a Super Rugby title with the Highlanders. With the Hurricanes Evans became the first choice No. 8, showcasing dynamic ability on both sides of the ball.
Despite good form with the Hurricanes and now with Hawke’s Bay in the Mitre 10 Cup, Evans still thought the All Blacks were far on the horizon.
“I actually hadn’t heard anything,” he said. “If I was honest, I probably… didn’t think it was going to happen, or something like that just cause you know there’s a lot of younger guys out there now and I’m 27.
“I missed a few years with injury and things like that so I’m a bit slower than everyone else but I’m sort of just pretty stoked that I’m there or thereabouts anyway.”
Evans plans on making the most of his opportunities with the national side.
“I sort of feel like being named in the wider, you get the opportunity to sort of put your toes just in the water and see what it’s all about. And I guess the rest is up to whether you wanna have a good old swim or dry yourself off.
“I’ve just gotta tick all the boxes and obviously it’s a massive year with World Cup year coming up next year so I’m just gonna go out there and learn as much as I can for the however long I’m involved and then look to bring that form into Super Rugby next year and hopefully carry it on through.”