Non Evans: Double dream lives on after scare

(IRB.COM) Thursday 1 July 2010
By Non Evans
 
 Non Evans: Double dream lives on after scare
Non Evans is on track to play in her second World Cup despite the knee injury - Photo: Andrew Orchard / www.aosportsphoto.com

As we hit 50 days to go until Women's Rugby World Cup 2010, we catch up with Wales star Non Evans to find out how she's managing her hectic schedule.

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I'm still waiting to learn if I have been selected for the Welsh squad in the under 59kg Olympic freestyle wrestling event at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October. They are going to make one big announcement for all the sports from gymnastics to wrestling on 14 July.

I will be very disappointed if I don't make the squad because I have done everything they told me I needed to, I won all the medals I needed to and in the last few weeks I've also won gold at the Welsh Open and silver at the British Championships.

I'm desperate to know, not least because I will need to book some extra leave from work! What with the World Cup already using my leave up, I'll have to arrange unpaid leave and I can't do anything on that until I get my official selection letter.

End of the world

Arranging leave, though, was the furthest thing from my mind recently when I damaged the Lateral Collateral Ligament, the LCL, on the outside of my knee. It has basically snapped in half and the initial reaction from the scan was I had to have an operation.

My world fell apart literally at that news, because it would mean I would miss everything, not just the World Cup but also the Commonwealth Games, everything I had been working so hard towards over the last few months.

Fortunately, on examining it this week, the instability was not as bad as the scan suggested. They were pleased with how stable my leg was, so I have to have a couple of weeks in a brace to encourage it to reattach itself. I can walk and run on it, I have just got to rest it otherwise it won't improve.

The injury means I'm going to miss the training camp against England this weekend, but I'm hoping to be back in time for the test match with Ireland on 1 August. That is my aim and to be back fully fit obviously for the World Cup.

I haven't had an injury since I broke my leg in 2006, so I have been very lucky with all the sports that I do. Hopefully it will heal quickly. I can still do the bike and gym so I can keep my fitness up, which is great because I'm fitter than I have ever been before.

There's now only 50 days to go until the World Cup and I must admit I was counting the weeks down after I suffered the injury, thinking I have two weeks in a brace, then two weeks of rehab, then another three or four until the tournament gets underway.

Excitement builds

It's really exciting and everyone in the Welsh squad is now starting to talk about our first game with Australia. It is getting closer and closer and the mood in the camp is really good considering how we went in the Six Nations, getting the wooden spoon and losing to Italy.

A lot of the players who missed the Six Nations through injury are fit and back and there is really good competition for places in the squad.

We are playing England in a warm up game on Sunday, across four 20-minute halves, and I'm really excited to see how they work the combinations because we've got some new players in the squad.

I can't play, but I will be going down to watch the girls at the weekend. It will be interesting to see who they play at full back because we have got a couple of new youngsters in from the Under 20s, while Mellissa Berry is in the centres and other people have moved around.

It will be interesting to see how the coaches test the combinations and how the performances go. I think the result is not so important, we are looking at combinations and putting what we have done in training into the match environment.

England are probably the best team in the world at the moment following their victory over New Zealand just before Christmas. It's going to be a great challenge for us and the perfect preparation for the World Cup.

Squad selection

The World Cup has seemed more of a reality since our squad was announced in mid-May, well our coach Jason Lewis actually selected 23 confirmed players and then another six girls to train with the squad.

Those six girls have had to sweat it out over the summer until the squad is cut down to 26 for the World Cup. I'm in the 23 selected, which is great as I haven't got a worry, but I think it's good they have selected an squad because you do get injuries, you do get knocks.

You've also got more people to train with and against in sessions. We've got a busy summer with games against England as warm up matches and a full capped international against Ireland, so it's going to be a very busy build up and busy summer preparing for the World Cup.

There were a few surprises you could say in the 23 selected, including our captain Mellissa Berry in the centres. Mellissa is a very talented player and in the Six Nations she actually played in the centre against Scotland and had an outstanding game.

Mellissa is very, very quick and an excellent tackler, she's also a very good leader and an excellent communicator and I think that's something we missed in the backline when she wasn't there.

New challenges

We've got a lot of new girls in the backline and they were a little bit quiet, so when Mellissa was there it did kind of motivate people, lifted people's spirits and gave people confidence in the backline.

She's also lost a bit of weight in the last year and I think she's a little bit small now for a number 8, so she's an ideal size and pace for a centre so I'm very excited to have Mellissa back in the backline.

Another was Louise Rickard among those six players, but as a potential second row. I think she's the only player in the squad who has been around for longer than I have! Her number of caps speak for themselves, she's got 110 caps which is the record for a Welsh player.

Louise is a very fit girl and always does well in all the fitness tests. She has lost a little bit of pace as she's got older. She played centre initially for Wales and moved to the wing, but she wants to extend her playing career.

She said she'd be prepared to play anywhere for Wales and second row, perhaps we are lacking a little bit of depth there. She's very fit, she can get around the park, rucks and carries the ball well, but it remains to be seen if she can scrummage and jump in the lineout so that's something she'll have to prove over the summer to see if she can make the final squad.

Next week we catch up with Canada wing Julianne Zussman to look back on a two-test series win over neighbours USA and the climax of their domestic competition, the National Women's League.