Height: 1.80m (5′ 11”)
Weight: 84kg (13st 2 lbs)
Date of Birth: 14th August 1980 (age 28)
Birthplace: North Shore, New Zealand
Go on, how many of the less-informed out there assume Nick Evans, the new Harlequins fly-half (or first five-eighth), is just another Kiwi on a fat contract who, being too old and slow to cut it with the All Blacks anymore, takes his pension book to the Guinness Premiership post office? This could not be further from the truth.
Evans was born and raised on Auckland’s North Shore. He moved to Otago and joined the Highlanders, before returning last year to the Auckland Blues. At school, thanks to the influence of an Australian teacher, he took up Aussie Rules and was so good that he had to choose between that and rugby. Luckily for us, and especially the Quins fans out there, he chose rugby.
Evans has signed a three-year contract with Harlequins and when the history of the Premiership comes to be written, expect him to feature in the ‘Best overseas signings’ chapter.
Evans knows what it’s like to play the understudy. The world’s best No 10 Daniel Carter is unfortunately a New Zealander too and, to really rub it in, 18 months younger than Evans. Most would rage against the injustice. Some pundits, and you have to whisper this where Crusaders gather in the south island city of Christchurch, reckon Carter is only New Zealand’s second-best fly-half.
Evans (with 16 caps and a handful of appearances at the 2007 Rugby World Cup under his belt) having made his debut against England in Dunedin in 2004 at the age of 23, does not seem to play the embittered adversary:
“Dan Carter is the best in the world and I have never said otherwise. Yes, it is frustrating, but I have made the most of my chances and am very proud of what I have achieved for the All Blacks.”
So what are Evans’ strengths? He is quick. Very quick. He is a fine tactician and distributor, nails his goals and is strong in the tackle. New England scrum-half Danny Care is going to love playing inside him and Quins will certainly have the fastest half-back pairing in the Premiership – and certainly one of the most exciting.
This season promises to be a good one at The Stoop.