Evans overjoyed with Grand Slam glory
March 21, 2012
Ian Evans played a central role in Wales' Grand Slam triumph © Getty Images
Wales lock Ian Evans says winning the Six Nations Grand Slam is "a massive bonus" after finally resurrecting his international career after a three-year absence.
The 27-year-old Ospreys forward is now a two-time Slam winner having also featured in the 2008 success under head coach Warren Gatland. But he barely appeared for the national side between that clean sweep and this season's competition after he suffered a serious knee injury against the All Blacks in 2008, with several setbacks in his recovery meaning he did not pull on a red jersey again until the meeting with Australia just before Christmas.
His return coincided with injury to World Cup lock Luke Charteris and Evans, first capped in 2006, has made the most of his opportunity by turning in a string of authoritative displays, playing in every minute of the tournament and keeping the returning Charteris out of the starting XV. And while Evans enjoyed the celebrations after playing an integral role in Wales' latest Grand Slam, he insists just pulling on a Wales jersey again was special enough.
"It was a massive goal just to get back and play rugby and to pull on that red jersey again," he said. "I have achieved that and to have this now is a massive bonus. I was so happy to come through my injuries and prove some of the critics wrong.
"Once I played and got some continuity in my game I knew I would be able to progress and get back to it, and it was all about remaining positive during the tough times. I had to try to keep myself focused. I had a few hiccups when I was coming back but I had to keep pushing."
Saturday's 16-9 win over France was Evans' ninth win from nine Six Nations games, but the former Swansea man laughed off suggestions that he is a lucky charm for his country.
"I don't know about those stats but it's nice to be involved in two Slams and play every minute of the five games in this one," he said. "It's one I am happy with but I think it will take a couple of months to sink in. I have been fortunate, and it's amazing to see what it means to the people of Wales.
"My next door neighbours and friends have been sending me cards and it's nice to put smiles on the faces of the Welsh people. Times are hard at the moment and hopefully this will make them happy. It was amazing to see the number of people who turned out at the Senedd (the Welsh Assembly building) to see us on Monday and it was nice to see how much it means to people."
Evans now returns to Ospreys duty this week with the region still in the hunt for the RaboDirect Pro12 title, and with Wales' summer tour to Australia looming on the horizon. But given the injury nightmare he has come through, it is little surprise that Evans is not thinking too far ahead just yet.
"You don't know what's around the corner, you can get injured and you have to take it on the chin, which is hard but that the reality of things and the support of friends, family and everyone at the Ospreys makes it worthwhile," he said.
"I always aim to put my hand up for selection but nothing is guaranteed there is a lot of rugby to play this season and the tour is a long way away and if my name is back in the hat for that I will be happy."
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