From facing George North, to his school days as a cheeky kid, Steff Evans bares all in a chat with Rugby World

TAGS:

Steff Evans scored the bonus-point try for Wales in their win over Scotland in the opening game of the 2018 Six Nations and has kept his place on the wing for the game against England at Twickenham this weekend.

It’s just reward for the 23-year-old after a breakthrough 2017 – he was the Guinness Pro12’s top try-scorer with 11, helped the Scarlets win the title and won his first cap against Tonga in June. Here the Wales wing speaks to Rugby World magazine about teaching, his defence and James Davies…

Like a lot of the boys down here, I’m a Welsh speaker. During the week we’ll only speak English in camp but during games, if we want to confuse opponents, a few of us will chat in Welsh.

I was a cheeky kid in school. My maxim was if you get close to the teachers, you’ll be alright. It seemed to work – I didn’t get in much trouble at Ysgol y Strade.

Teacher: Evans set out to become a primary school teacher until his rugby success took over (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

I studied at Cardiff Met for a year to become a primary school teacher. I didn’t have my heart set on becoming a rugby player because I hadn’t been picked up by the academies and needed something to fall back on with good holidays!

In my first month with Llanelli I picked up a Player of the Month award. I thought, ‘I can’t be doing too badly, maybe I should give rugby a proper go’. It’s going well, touch wood…

Related: Wales Squad to face England

You get the odd bit of criticism on social media after a game. I’ve decided to shrug it off. It’s the only way you can move forward, by not worrying.

Coming face to face with George North was a shock. You don’t realise how big he is. His attitude to training is first class – you can see why he has such a reputation in the game. The fact he’s just 25 is crazy.

Tough to Stop: Evans was shocked at the sheer size of North when he first faced him (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The best player I’ve faced this season has to be Charles Piutau. He has great feet but he’s so strong. He can step you or run right through you, which not many back-three players can do. He’s mustard.

The Kiwi: Evans acknowledges the best player he has faced is Charles Piutau of Ulster, simply because he is so difficult to contain (Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Scarlets are one big family. We were chuffed to make the play-offs – it was a team effort after a poor start. We didn’t blame anyone; we put in the hard work and got the results. Credit must go to Wayne Pivac, Stephen Jones and Byron Hayward for turning it round.

LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS

Cubby (James Davies) is a character. But behind all the jokes, his rugby knowledge is second to none. He’s a brilliant player, with all the skills. He calls me his “protégé”. He’s a bit of an entrepreneur is Cubby, a bit like Del Boy.

Del Boy: Evans’ teammate James Davies is quite the entrepreneur (Photo by Simon King – CameraSport via Getty Images)

I’ve worked hard on my defence this season. Last season my missed tackle count was pretty high, so I worked hard with Byron on my extras. I’d perhaps concentrated too much on my footwork, but needed to knuckle down on my technique. Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams, who know a bit about defending, chipped in.

To see some of my stats from this season has been mad. To be sitting top alongside Piutau for line breaks is hard to believe. It’s good that some of my hard work has paid off.

The only way to push my game on is to maintain my consistency. No player is rated from just one season. It’s about proving it over a number of years. I’ll keep my head down and keep trying to get better.

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Rugby World magazine.