'I haven’t retired... there is something in the pipeline coming soon'
As Rob Evans returns to the international stage this weekend in the famous colours of the Barbarians, he has some news for us – he’s not retiring from professional rugby after all.
At the beginning of this month, it was announced the 39-cap Wales prop – who was with the Dragons last season – would be dropping down to play for Haverfordwest RFC in Division Three West A.
But while he does plan to turn out for his home town club in a few games, he isn’t quitting the pro ranks. Instead, he is set to take up an opportunity playing overseas later this year.
“I think someone may have jumped the gun a little,” explained the 31-year-old.
“I said, to keep myself fit, I’d have a couple of games for Haverfordwest and I am hoping to do that. I have been training with them and also doing a little bit of coaching with Milford Haven.
“But I haven’t retired professionally and there is something in the pipeline coming soon.”
After a decade with the Scarlets – during which he won all his Wales caps – Evans then joined the Dragons a year ago. Having parted company with them, he now has his sights set on foreign fields.
“Once I left the Scarlets and had another tricky season with the Dragons, I think my time on the regional front was up,” he said.
“I always wanted to try something new and I made that decision then.
“When you have a bit of time after the season, you refind your love for the game pretty quickly. I am looking forward to experiencing something new really.”
It was only three years ago that loosehead Evans was starting for Wales. But then, after some five seasons as a regular in the national set up, he slipped out of the frame.
“You can’t control what happens outside of your own stuff,” he said. “I had some great times with Wales, but I am looking forward to new stuff now.”
First, however, there is that return to the international arena as he makes his debut for the Barbarians, having been named among the replacements for their meeting with Samoa at the Stade Amedee-Domenech in Brive on Friday night.
That will see him line up alongside the likes of France centre Virimi Vakatawa – who is coming out of retirement – Wallaby wing Henry Speight and Springboks scrum-half Herschel Jantjies. As for the Samoans – who give a debut to former All Blacks fly-half Lima Sopoaga – they will be using the game to warm-up for the World Cup.
Speaking about making his BaaBaas bow, Evans said: “I am delighted. Apart from Test match rugby, it’s the ultimate honour really to be selected for this team among some of the best players in the world. Everyone wants to be a part of it.
“There are some really good players here. It’s good to be a part of it when you look round the dressing room and see what the players have achieved. It’s a privilege really and very exciting.
“Being part of the BaaBaas reminds you of why you started playing rugby, coming together with a random bunch of blokes, getting to know each other on the first couple of nights, having a few sherberts and then getting some structure in place so we can have a bit of fun on the field. There is some skill here, so I am really looking forward to it.”
The big question, of course, is whose socks is he going to be wearing, amid that particular BaaBaas tradition?
“I will probably wear one Haverfordwest one and one Scarlets one because I spent most of my time in Wales with the Scarlets and the club means a lot to me,” he says.
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