Featherstone Rovers v Leeds Rhinos – Rhys Evans has big chance to prove his worth
TONIGHT’S PRE-SEASON game at Featherstone Rovers is Leeds Rhinos newcomer Rhys Evans’ chance to prove his worth for Betfred Super League round one.
Evans will start in the centres for his third Leeds appearance, after coming off the bench in wins over Bradford Bulls and Wigan Warriors.
He joined Rhinos on loan from Bulls on January 2 and travelled with the squad to Spain for a warm-weather training camp just two days later.
“I’ve been here two weeks now so I have got to know the lads and the staff and I have really enjoyed it,” said the Welsh international who hopes to make his competitive debut at home to Hull in nine days’ time.
“Going away and then having a couple of games, I have got to know them quite well. The camp couldn’t have been any better, straight in the deep end and get to know people. We got through a lot of good work over there and I really enjoyed it.”
Evans spent eight seasons with Warrington Wolves, scoring 37 tries in 94 Super League appearances. He also had spells on loan at Leigh Centurions, Swinton Lions and North Wales Crusaders before signing for Leigh ahead of the 2017 campaign.
He switched to Bulls last year, but his contract there included a clause allowing him to move back into Super League if an opportunity came up.
With Tom Briscoe still on the casualty list, owing to a serious knee injury suffered last August, Rhinos are lacking experienced cover in the outside-backs.
Evans can fill in at full-back, centre or wing, so will give boss Richard Agar, who coached him at Warrington, extra options.
Evans said: “It’s a very good calibre of squad here, you wouldn’t expect anything else of Leeds.
“They have been there or thereabouts, winning things, for years and the standards here are as good off the field as they are on.
“There’s competition for places which is healthy in any sporting environment.
“All I can do is do my best when called upon and in training and take it from there. That’s good; it keeps everyone on their toes and playing sharp.”
At 27, he reckons he still has plenty to offer and it is good for him personally to be back at the top level.
He added: “It’s been a couple of years since I was in it and I think you cherish it a bit more when you come back to it.
“Hopefully I can see what this year brings and then go from there.”
If everything goes to plan, Evans will get more game time tonight than in his two previous appearances for Leeds.
He confirmed: “I was happy with the couple of games I’ve played in so far.
“Hopefully I can get a run-out against Fev and get a bit more minutes.
“And then be there or thereabouts for round one.”
Evans will be the most experienced player in Leeds’ side tonight and Rhinos can expect a tough test against last year’s Betfred Championship Grand Finalists. He noted: “There’s a strong link between Fev and Leeds and some lads I was with at Bradford last year are there now.
“It is going to be a strong game and hopefully we can put on a decent performance.
“Every time you go on the field you want to do yourself justice and put yourself in the shop window.
“Hopefully I can do that and then the coaches have to make some decisions on who plays for round one. I have been to Fev a few times. It is a tough ground and the atmosphere’s always very good so I am looking forward to it.”
The game is also an opportunity for some of Rhinos’ youngsters to shine. “I’ve been impressed with them,” Evans noted. “They’ve been training hard in pre-season and they are gunning for positions as well. It keeps the more experienced boys on their toes, so it’s a good environment.”