WALES winger Kyle Evans made plenty of people sit up and take notice last Monday, when he scored a striking try against the Tongans as well as showing strong defensive qualities in making a couple of bellringer tackles against NRL star centre Siosifa Talakai.
Evans, 32, was celebrating a remarkable rise to the Welsh national team after less than twelve months of playing Rugby League.
He started his career with rugby union side Llanelli, where he spent three seasons in the Welsh Premiership, scoring 27 tries in 57 appearances, and was called up by the Scarlets to play in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
After one season in the English Championship with Moseley, he returned to Wales in 2016, joining Merthyr. In 2018, he won the Welsh Premiership Player of the Year award.
In May 2019, Evans returned to the English second tier, signing a two-year contract with Doncaster Knights.
Coming under the influence of Doncaster assistant coach Francis Cummins, Evans spent time training with Leeds Rhinos, playing one game in the reserves, but his spell at the club was cut short due to lockdowns during the Covid pandemic.
In June 2022, he signed a contract with Wakefield Trinity and, after a successful trial, he made his debut in the Super League against the Wigan Warriors in July, scoring a try in a 22-46 defeat.
After making three appearances for Trinity, including at Magic Weekend, he was named in the Wales World Cup squad, making his debut against Tonga and making Welsh coach John Kear sing his praises.
“Kyle was outstanding and actually over-delivered in terms of what I thought he would bring to the side,” said Kear, who believes that Evans would be a great asset to many teams in Super League or the Championship.
“He wasn’t just good with the ball, but you saw the quality of his tackling. I just wish that I hadn’t spent all my budget for the 2023 season at Widnes, because I would love to recruit him for our club.”
Speaking to League Express, Evans confirmed that he would like to continue his Rugby League career, although he doesn’t yet have a club lined up for next season.
“I do want to stay in Rugby League,” he said.
“I’m obviously new to it and I’ve only been playing for four months.
“Coming towards the end of my time at Doncaster, I was going to give up rugby with no opportunities available.
“But I got a text out of the blue to come to Wakefield and I made my first Super League start against Wigan and then played at the Magic Weekend and against St Helens.”
And Evans admits that the last thing he expected was to be called up to the Wales squad, making his international debut last Monday against the Tongans.
He said: “I was overwhelmed. I was told about my selection for Wales with a call from the team manager to let me know I was selected to be in the squad.
“It’s a dream come true; I didn’t think I would get an opportunity like this.
“I would like to thank Franny (Cummins) and Willie (Poching) for giving me the opportunity at Wakefield. If I hadn’t played for them, John Kear wouldn’t have selected me for the Welsh squad.
“I kept getting adrenaline bursts during the day. It was amazing for my family and my daughter who were there. My two sisters, my mum’s partner and my mum and my girlfriend all came to the game. They had such a good time and they loved the Tongans and their supporters.
“During the game I just did my best.
“And now I just want to make the most of my time and keep playing until I can’t play any longer.
“I just love the physical side of Rugby League and I would love to see more Welsh players giving it a go.”