MAKING mum proud continues to motivate Wolves’ Evans brothers in their blossoming rugby league careers.
Twins Ben and Rhys started a top-flight club game together for the first time in Sunday’s Challenge Cup success against Doncaster, a milestone in a journey that started seven years ago.
Mum Jane backed her 14-year-old Bridgend sons’ wishes to pursue a career as professionals in primrose and blue, eventually packing their bags and leaving the life they knew in South Wales for a move to Warrington in 2007 that included enrolling on Wolves’ scholarship scheme.
And while the pair have experienced glorious playing successes together since with Great Sankey High School, Burtonwood Bulldogs junior teams, Wolves Academy sides and various England and Wales international teams, it is the shared time in Tony Smith’s side this season that ultimately shows they made the right call as youngsters.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve made it, because we need to kick on and get spots every week, but it does feel like part of the dream is paying off now,” said Ben, who after nine bench outings figured as an ‘extra prop’ at loose forward on Sunday while winger Rhys crossed for a try that keeps him as the team’s top try scorer this season.
“It’s been a long process but mum’s proud as punch after moving up with us and for us to be both playing now.
“We just need to keep our heads on it, try and get in the team every week, try and play as well as we can every week.”
The 21-year-old accepts now that it was a brave decision to move north.
“At 14, I don’t think me and Rhys understood it as such. As kids, we just saw the opportunity and mum was good enough to give up everything for us and move up here.
“So it feels like we’re paying her back a bit now and we just want to make her proud and do our best.”
After being on hand to share in her sons’ appearances in the likes of national schools cup finals, Wolves under 20s Grand Finals and international fixtures, Jane missed the weekend’s milestone after her recent move overseas.
Ben, above, and Rhys, below, playing for England Academy in a series win against the Australian Schoolboys at Leigh Sports Village in 2010
“She’s out in Saudi Arabia in the sun, living the dream now. She’s back soon and can’t wait to watch a game,” said Ben, who, after spending 2013 on loan at Bradford Bulls is looking forward to facing former teammates at Odsal on Sunday.
And as eighth-placed Wolves desperately seek winning points against rock-bottom Bradford, he is well aware of the danger signs seen in the weekend’s cup win by Francis Cummins’ men against an in-form Catalan Dragons team.
He understands the psyche of a Bulls player, having shared in the troubled times brought about by financial difficulties, ownership battles, mounting injuries in a small squad and points deduction brought about by Bulls entering administration.
“I don’t think anything brings a team together better. As a team, they’ve come through some hard times and showed some real spirit,” he said.
“It was a great result for them against Catalan, considering they’re carrying a lot of injuries. To come together and get a win like that, I was made up for them.
“And beating Catalan they’ll come into the game against us with confidence and it’ll make the game even tougher for us. They need two points, they need points to stay in Super League.
“We need to string a few wins together and not have a good game one week and a poor one the next. We need some consistency to get further up the table and towards the back end of the season be effective in the play-offs.
“As for me, I want to play as much as I can. Every game is another game of experience. So I just need to do my best at training and playing, and if Tony gives me the nod then I’ve got to do my best on the field.”
Ben welcomed the performance and win against Championship high flyers Doncaster that earned Wolves another trip to Bradford in the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup on June 7/8.
“We needed a good performance after Easter Monday at Castleford (40-6 loss), which was probably our worst game of the season,” he said.
“We went out with some goals in mind and I think we achieved them.”
He was as happy with the 0 as he was with the 68.
“Definitely, that was one of our goals,” he said.
“After we’d got to half time nilling them we said that’s what we wanted to do in the second half to take something into our next game against Bradford.”
Ben in action for Warrington Wolves this year
Ben is pleased to be a part of the Warrington first-team scene this season but grateful for the opportunity offered to him by Cummins and Bulls in 2013.
“I wasn’t expecting to play as many games as I have,” he said.
“We’ve had some injuries which has gone in my favour.
“Tony just wants me to be solid in offence and defence. I’ve worked a lot on my offence this year, I need to pick up my defence a bit. I think he’s happy with how I’m going. I just need to improve. Everyone can improve in some area so that’s what I need to do.”
And he felt his game developed in the time spent at Odsal despite a disappointing beginning due to injury.
“I didn’t have the start I wanted with injury and missed the first couple of months,” he said.
“Luckily enough, Frannie decided to keep me and I played every game from there. It was massive for me to get some Super League experience and I think that’s what has helped me get in the Warrington team this year.”
Ben celebrating a try for Wales in the Rugby League World Cup 2013 opener against Italy at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff
And the World Cup selection with Wales last October was another bonus in his progression.
“The World Cup was another massive experience, playing two out of three games with Wales. I think that got me ready for a good pre-season with Warrington in Australia,” he said.
So the advances shown have handed Ben the opportunity to play alongside his brother again, but now at the top level.
“It’s been a while, with me being at Bradford last year and Rhys struggling with little niggles and not being able to get in the team,” he said.
“But we’re both playing now and both got a start against Doncaster which was good.
“I think we help each other out in different ways. I might say things to him that other players won’t because he’s my brother, and vice-versa, so we’re always pushing each other and we’re honest with each other, which is good.”