Saturday 26 May 2018

Scarlets 'happy' to be underestimated once again - Evans

Rob Evans. Photo: Ashley Crowden - CameraSport via Getty Images
Rob Evans. Photo: Ashley Crowden - CameraSport via Getty Images
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

There is a lot to admire about the Scarlets and how they go about their business.

Whether it is the Welsh side's thrilling style of play, or the manner in which they continue to prove doubters wrong, Irish supporters can certainly relate to a lot of what the Scarlets stand for.

No one gave them any hope when they rocked up at the RDS for last season's PRO12 semi-final, and certainly not when Steff Evans was sent off just before half-time.

But with their backs against the wall, Wayne Pivac's men pulled off a major upset. Then they repeated the trick a week later, up the road at the Aviva against Munster, to be crowned champions.

Returning to the capital this weekend, Leinster will again be heavy favourites and that will not bother the Scarlets one bit.

"Maybe we are underestimated but it is something that we don't really care about," loosehead Rob Evans insists.

"We're happy with ourselves and people in this community have belief in us as well.

"If people want to underestimate us then happy days, but we'll do our talking on the field and see the outcome afterwards.

"If they are right they're right. We have to make sure we are on the money and get the result."

That self-belief has come off the back of Pivac instilling a huge amount of confidence, not only in players as individuals, but also in the expansiveness that the Kiwi wants his team to play with.

From an Irish perspective, we have seen just how much Tadhg Beirne has been transformed since moving to Llanelli, and the former Leinster player will return to these shores with Munster, as one of the form players in Europe.

Pivac's reputation has also been greatly enhanced - so much so that he is now the front-runner to replace Warren Gatland as Wales boss, and while Evans would love for him to remain with the Scarlets, he can see his potential as a national head coach.

"He definitely demands a higher standard on the pitch," Evans says of Pivac's influence.

"He goes about it in the right way. He has a good way of getting the best out of us. I know the boys respect him a lot and when you respect someone, you want to give it your all for them.

"He means a lot to me, he came in gave me a shot. He's a great bloke to talk to.

"He'll give you good advice and, as you say, he's a very knowledgeable bloke and very humble and down to earth. He's great for us boys and great for the squad, he manages extremely well.

"Obviously there has been the odd bit of banter flying about but we're very much focused on what we've got to do in hand and towards the end of the season as we want to be very successful. Nothing has really been spoke of.

"As soon as the media get hold of something in Wales, they will make it massive, but as far as we're all concerned it's all Scarlets at the moment and concentrating on the job in hand.

"I know Wayne is happy at the Scarlets at the moment but I'm sure if he did get the Welsh job, he would do a good job."

The last time the Scarlets played in a European semi-final (2007), Evans was still in school, dreaming of one day pulling on the red jersey.

Chance As he alluded to earlier, it was Pivac who gave him his first real chance in professional rugby, and since then, the 25-year-old has repaid his coach's faith - going from strength to strength with both club and country.

An unfortunate injury to Tadhg Furlong during the Six Nations denied supporters what would have been a titanic scrum battle, but two months on, and back at the Aviva, the two powerful props will go head-to-head.

"He's (Furlong) obviously a good player, a Lion," Evans remarks.

"He's probably known as one of the best in the world now. It's nothing I'm really scared about or anything, I'm looking forward to giving it a good go.

"I was a bit gutted we didn't get a bash-out in the Six Nations really.

"We're happy enough as a pack as it is. We wouldn't change anyone really in our pack. Hopefully, it will be the same this Saturday.

"I think both sides have improved, especially Leinster, so it's going to be a whole different challenge for us."

Irish Independent

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