Scots look for stars in the Evans
Thursday 12 February 2009
Thom and Max Evans were both schooled at Wellington College in Berkshire. So was Eric Arthur Blair, or George Orwell as he preferred to be known when he wrote "Down And Out In Paris And London".
The hope for Scottish rugby is that the Evans brothers will not be down and out in the north of Paris on Saturday, or for that matter in the south-west of London when Scotland bring their Six Nations campaign to a conclusion on 21 March.
The Glasgow backs were yesterday picked in a new-look Scotland XV for engagement in the Stade de France. Both have played for Scotland before but this will be their first stint of national service in tandem, making it quite a week for the multi-talented Evans family. On Tuesday their father's cousin became a father for the first time. Chris Evans, of BBC Radio Two fame, described his 7lb 4oz son, Noah, as "a bit special". Similar things have been said of the Evans boys ahead of their birth as an international rugby partnership.
Thom, 23, played on the wing for Scotland against Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa last year. Max, 25, made his debut as a replacement centre against Canada in November and came off the bench at Murrayfield last Sunday to provide the one shaft of light in Scotland's otherwise dismal 26-13 defeat against Wales, slipping through the clutches of Shane Williams and stepping inside Lee Byrne to claim the home side's only try.
Max makes his first start on Saturday, replacing Ben Cairns at outside centre while Thom comes in for Sean Lamont on the left wing in a team featuring five changes in all, with Simon Danielli on the right wing, Alasdair Dickinson at tighthead prop and Alasdair Strokosch at blindside flanker, but still only a bench berth for Chris Paterson, who registered a 100 per cent goal-kicking record in last year's Six Nations and who kicked three out of three as a replacement last Sunday. Frank Hadden, Scotland's head coach, is clearly hoping that the Evans brothers can bring an X-factor to a team who started the championship on a flat note against Wales.
Both starred in the Glasgow side who produced the result of the season so far in European rugby, a stunning 33-26 victory in Toulouse a month ago. Max scored a try that day while Thom plundered three in the Heineken Cup thriller that went to the wire at Bath in December.
Thom also tops the Magners League try-scoring chart, ahead of a certain Douglas Howlett.
Blessed with blistering pace, Thom was once a sprinter, coached byMargot Wells, wife and mentor of Allan Wells, the fastest Scotsman of all time. He was also a singer and bass guitarist in the boy band Twen2y4Se7en, spending a year on the road touring with Peter Andre and Westlife."It was great having 50,000 girls screaming your name," Thom reflected yesterday. "But it was nothing like it's going to be in the Stade de France. I'm sure it's going to be quite emotional, with Max playing alongside me."
Asked what his "most rock-and-roll moment" as a boy-bander had been, Thom replied: "When I had some female knickers thrown at me."
Max interjected: "It wasn't the worst experience for me either. Girls would notice me in the crowd and say, 'Are you his brother?' They'd all come flocking to me and I'd end up having to run away."
Not that Max is without another notable string to his bow. He spent a year out from rugby as a professional golfer, following in the footsteps of his father, Brian, who played on the European tour.
Scotland team: H Southwell (Edinburgh); S Danielli (Ulster), M Evans (Glasgow), G Morrison (Glasgow), T Evans (Glasgow); P Godman (Edinburgh), M Blair (Edinburgh, capt); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), A Dickinson (Gloucester), J White (Sale), J Hamilton (Edinburgh), A Strokosch (Gloucester), J Barclay (Glasgow), S Taylor (Stade Français). Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow), M Low (Glasgow), K Brown (Glasgow), S Gray (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Perpignan), N De Luca (Edinburgh).
* Ireland resisted the temptation to tinker with a winning team when they named an unchanged side for their Six Nations match in Italy on Sunday.
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