Rugby Union: Llewellyn likely to fill in for Evans: Robert Cole assesses the impact in Wales of the shattering injury to their inspiring captain

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The Independent Online
THE Welsh selectors will have to find a new right wing and captain when they sit down tonight to pick a team to face Italy on 12 October, following the horrific injury to Ieuan Evans at Cardiff Arms Park.

Evans dislocated his left ankle and fractured his fibula after running into a barrage of Cardiff defenders, and had to undergo an operation at Cardiff Royal Infirmary to have a metal plate screwed into his ankle.

It means the man who last month broke the Welsh try record with his 21st touchdown in the 16-9 win over Romania will be in plaster for six weeks and out of action for at least three months. 'He could be training again in the New Year and the injury is not as bad as it looked,' the surgeon, John Fairclough said. 'Ieuan will be in plaster for at least a month after having a metal plate screwed into the bone, but we are hopeful he will be as good as new when he returns.'

Evans knows all about hauling himself back to the top after surgery, having twice recovered from shoulder operations. He suffered four dislocations of his left shoulder and missed two years of rugby as a result. Yet he was able to return faster, stronger and better than ever and that will be the hope that everyone in Welsh rugby, himself included, will cling to. The World Cup finals next summer are bound to be his main target and a fully fit Evans will remain an automatic choice.

The Neath lock, Gareth Llewellyn, is the most likely replacement for Evans as captain, having led Wales on four occasions without defeat. 'We had to play against France without Ieuan last season and the boys put in a big performance and we'll all be doing the same and more for him next week,' Llewellyn said.

'We have lost the best wing in the world from our team and we're all very disappointed by that. He is a player who can really lift a side with tries like the one he scored against England in 1993 and Romania last month.'

Gwilym Wilkins, of Bridgend, and David Manley, the Pontypridd player who topped the Heineken League try chart with 16 last season, will be the leading candidates to fill Evans' jersey against Italy and the South Africans on 26 November, although the selectors could recall Nigel Walker and switch Wayne Proctor to the right wing.

After Evans' departure in the 25th minute, Llanelli slipped to their first league defeat at the Arms Park, and an unprecedented third in a row this season.

Cardiff: Tries Bevan, Lewis, Joseph, Ford; Conversion Davies; Penalties Rayer, Davies. Llanelli: Try Jones; Penalty Stephens.

Cardiff: M Rayer; S Ford, C Laity, M Hall (capt), S Hill; A Davies, A Booth; D Joseph, H Bevan, L Mustoe, S Roy, D Jones, H Taylor, E Lewis, O Williams.

Llanelli: I Jones; I Evans (J Strange, 25), N Boobyer, N Davies, W Proctor; C Stephens, R Moon; R Evans, R McBryde, H Williams-Jones, P Davies, L Williams, P Jones, A McPherson, A Varney.

Referee: G Simmonds (Cardiff).