Gloucester Rugby: Gareth Evans makes a name for himself
FINE-TUNING has helped Gareth Evans build the 'engine' to break into Gloucester's crowded back-row unit.
The pacy loose-forward motored down the right flank in the dying stages of the Cherry and Whites' gruelling World Club Sevens weekend.
The 21-year-old high-stepped in for a consolation try in Gloucester's 33-14 second-tier plate final defeat to New York City Sevens on Sunday night at Twickenham.
The Kingsholm men were out on their feet, but Swindon-born Evans conjured one last sprint for a well-taken score – and that after playing every minute of the second-day action.
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Gloucester's sevens coach Rob Thirlby believes Evans' improved conditioning can now catapult him into regular first-team reckoning with the Cherry and Whites.
Standout summer signing Matt Kvesic only swells Gloucester's back-row ranks to greater and ever more competitive heights.
Bulldozers Ben Morgan and Sione Kalamafoni provide the platform, Akapusi Qera and Matt Cox the mayhem, while Andy Hazell and Kvesic offer the natural scavenging.
Then there is the small matter of the industrious Tom Savage, equally comfortable at lock or blindside, and who in all likelihood will be Gloucester's club captain this term.
Any homegrown youngster keen to make their Kingsholm name at loose-forward will have to bide their time behind that roll call.
But club analyst and short-format coach Thirlby is confident Evans is ready to muscle in on Gloucester's most well-stocked department.
Thirlby explained: "Gareth played every minute of every game.
"He's in great shape, he's got a real engine now, he's done very well and been outstanding for us.
"Last year he wouldn't have been able to do that, so it just shows how much he has stepped up.
"Back-row is always extremely competitive at Gloucester, but it's going to be even more so this season. Gareth's definitely challenging though, and it's going to be interesting.
"He's really stepped up this year, he's grown as a leader as well.
"He's done a great job in the sevens and now he will look to carry that through the rest of the pre-season into 15s and the campaign ahead."
Evans made his senior Gloucester debut two years ago in James Simpson-Daniel's testimonial match against Russia at Kingsholm.
The skilful number eight is an ever-present in Gloucester's pre-season sevens campaigns since joining the club, turning out in short-format action over the last four years.
Thirlby hailed the increasingly-popular JP Morgan Sevens and now the world club contest as another important route to help youngsters towards senior 15s honours.
This time last summer Nigel Davies selected a potent sevens squad, keen to make an impact in his first competitive action as Gloucester boss.
But despite the star names, it was developing academy graduate Dan Robson that impressed most – laying the foundation for his breakthrough first-team campaign.
Former England Sevens star Thirlby now believes Evans can follow suit this term.
He added: "Gareth Evans is the prime example, he's done fantastically well playing sevens in the last few years.
"It's really stepped him up through the pecking order at the club.
"He's highly-regarded as a fantastic player, he's got a big future ahead of him this year, and it's all because of the confidence and experience he's gained through the sevens.
"Dan Robson was given a shot on the basis of what he did in the sevens last season.
"That certainly made the coaches have a longer look at him, and hopefully it will have the same effect for Gareth."