Wales star barred from playing for country gets rave reviews as Gatland searches for options

The Bible has an old proverb that states, “No one is a prophet in their own land.” Like many Welsh athletes before him, Jarrod Evans undoubtedly embodies this.

Evans has been among the most reliable players in the Welsh game for the last eight years, but even though he has eight caps for his nation, the 27-year-old has never done enough to convince the national selectors to start him in the red number 10 jersey. Although Evans is a fantastic offensive player, there have always been concerns about his excessive kicking and game management.

He chose to join Harlequins in the Gallagher Premiership last summer in order to take on a new challenge away from the politics and unpredictability of Welsh rugby. The former playmaker for Cardiff has excelled thus far, and the manner the Harlequins attack is a perfect fit for his offensive style. Quins supporters, who have been thrilled by his influence in Marcus Smith’s absence, are giving him rave reviews.

One major consequence of Evans’ decision to leave the dark and go for the bright lights of Richmond is apparent. Because of the contentious 25-cap rule, the gifted playmaker has disqualified himself from representing Wales, but if he continues to play at this level, it wouldn’t be shocking if Warren Gatland urged him to think about going back home.

Gatland does not currently have a lot of choices at 10. Sam Costelow has emerged as his new favorite, but the Scarlets player won’t be available until the following year due to injury. Will Reed and Ben Thomas, among others, have been mentioned as potential backups behind him; scrum-half Tomos Williams is also being contemplated.

Dragons consultant Paul Turner is one man who has experience coaching over the bridge, having coached teams like Sale, Gloucester, Harlequins, Wasps, and now Ampthill. Turner is also well-versed with number 10s playing in England. Turner believes Evans will improve as a footballer after moving to England since he has greatly impressed him.

“From what I’ve seen Jarrod looks to have settled in really well,” Turner stated.

“He can run a game and possesses the X-factor. It usually depends on the players whether they settle when they relocate to England. He’s a skilled player, and I anticipate more success from him. In England, Welsh fly-halves usually go down well.

“Jarrod possesses the majority of the qualities required to rank in the top ten. Playing in England might give his style of play a new perspective.

“I adore how Jarrod understands when to give up and how he plays the game till the last minute. Because of his little size, he must read the game well and is a capable goal kicker as well.

“You will be destroyed if you don’t make the correct decisions at the highest level possible, a 10. Although he clearly needs to improve, leaving his comfort zone to play in England would undoubtedly help him with game management.”

Evans made an immediate impression on his new team at Ashton Gate, as he secured a thrilling opening weekend victory over Bristol Bears with a goal two minutes from time. With three victories from their first four Premiership games, Harlequins are currently second in the standings.

Evans’ ability to carry the ball to the line and his ability to see beyond the line have been key components of the Harlequins’ success thus far. The main test for Evans will be whether he can continue wearing the number 10 jersey now that England’s Marcus Smith is back from his World Cup duty.

“Jarrod is actually a similar type of player to Marcus Smith,” Turner stated. “To be honest, I believe he will compete with Marcus for the starting job at Quins.

“I believe Harlequins have found the perfect opponent for Marcus Smith, and since Smith has been linked to a move to France, we don’t know if he’ll be back for the upcoming season.” With any luck, Jarrod will gain confidence from his performances and keep improving.

“He’ll be vital for Harlequins this season if they are to be successful.”

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