Since moving to London from Warrington, Ben Evans has made great strides to becoming a first team regular. With injury worries behind him and a World Cup place on the horizon, we caught up with the Broncos big number 18 to see how the season has gone, and what his thoughts are about pulling on the Welsh shirt once more.
It was a tough start to the 8s, followed by a good win against Halifax – but we’ve still got two big games to go. How’s the mood in the camp?
Yeah, it’s good. It’s been difficult, like you said, but we’ve got two games to go and four points up for grabs. Two more wins would get us into the Million Pound Game, so we just have to take each game as it comes, and hopefully get as many points as we can.
And how about our form in the Qualifiers?
We’re doing alright – it’s just the little things. We’ve won one game, lost two and drawn one, so we’re not far off. If we can just switch on in key moments – those three games could all have been three wins, and it would be a different story now. I think we’ve learned enough now – we’ve been saying all year we need to learn from these mistakes, but now we actually need to put it into practice.
So how’s your first season with London been?
Good, touch wood. I’ve had a pretty good season with injuries and that – I’ve actually played the most games I’ve played in the last couple of years, so really good. I’m really enjoying it. I can’t wait to finish the year strongly.
What’s been your personal highlight in 2017?
I don’t know really – I think for me, the last couple of years I’ve been struggling with injuries so I think just being part of the team again and playing every week. You know, actually doing something with the team instead of just training, that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most – being back part of it, and part of the lads, and trying to help out on the field instead of just off it.
You came back from a pretty big injury at the start of this season?
Yeah I missed the first two games, and I think I’ve only missed three since then. Like I said, it’s the most games I’ve played in the last two or three years. My body’s feeling good, and I’ve got some good minutes under my belt. Hopefully I can finish the year strong, and hopefully be in the Welsh World Cup squad, then hit the ground running next year having a full pre-season.
On the World Cup, how are you feeling about your inclusion in the provisional squad?
It would be amazing – we’d be out there for four or five weeks, minimum. The last time I played for Wales was the last World Cup – my injuries have also been back end of the year, and I’ve always missed out through injury, so it would be great to see the boys again, and play with them.
Five London Broncos have named in the provisional squad – is that an advantage for John Kear?
Yeah, definitely. The back five for London could be the back five for Wales, which is massive. They all know what they do – they play with each other week in and week out. It’s good to take that into a team where you’ve not just got two weeks to try and get used to each everyone if you’ve already been playing together all year.
With two huge games left – what’s our focus for the next few weeks?
Take each game as it comes – try and get some wins, and try and aim for that Million Pound Game. Some teams might have written us off, but we’ve got three points now, and there are four points still up for grabs. Anything can happen. I’m taking each game as it comes. We need a win whoever we play.
Do you think we can expect lots of twists and turns as we head towards the back end of the 8s?
I think so, yeah – some of the Championship teams have run some of the Super League teams close. Halifax ran Warrington close until the last ten or twenty minutes, and they also pushed Hull KR. You’ve got to be switched on in these games, they’re like mini cup finals really. Each game is a massive two points up for grabs, and each team needs them.
What’s your personal focus for these last few weeks?
Three wins would be nice, and then promotion! Just play my best, and give everything I can. With two games left now, I don’t want to be finishing those two games thinking ‘if I’d tried a bit harder would we have been promoted’. We all just need to give it our absolute best, and that’s all anyone can ask, really.