4th August 2017, 10:00
MEET THE TEAM: Ben Evans
London Broncos forward Ben Evans is the latest player to feature in MEET THE TEAM ahead of Rugby League World Cup 2017.
Born in South Wales, Ben Evans has gone from Champion Schools to Super League and is just one example of the quality products to have come through the Wales Rugby League system. He has been named in Wales' 38-man train-on squad for Rugby League World Cup 2017.
However he could have had a career in the round ball game as a goalkeeper after being enrolled with Cardiff City Academy when at in Primary School.
But when he joined the rugby mad Brynteg Comprehensive. His views changed and at aged 11 started playing Rugby League in the Champion Schools competition alongside his twin brother Rhys, fellow future Wales international Ollie Olds and a number of others who are still in the WRL system.
In 2005, aged 12, he was presented with the Chev Walker Man of the Match medal by Sir Bobby Robson at the Millennium Stadium as Brynteg beat Castleford High in the National Year 7 Final, played before the classic Challenge Cup Final between Hull FC and Leeds Rhinos.
Coached by former Wales interational Kevin Ellis during Ben's time at the school, Brynteg narrowly lost to Castleford a year later in the Year 8 Final but he and Rhys had done enough to be spotted by Warrington Wolves scouts Peter Farrell (father of Andrew) and Brian Chambers.
So at the age of 14, though, he moved to England with his family so they could join Warrington Wolves on scholarships and by the age of 17, he was awarded a full-time contract with the Wolves after working his way through the youth sides and also playing against his old school Brynteg, for his new one, Great Sankey, in Champion Schools.
Ben in action for Warrington Wolves
Having appeared for Wales at youth level, Evans' debut at full international level did, in fact, come before his first-team debut at club level.
The 24-year-old was named in the line-ups for Wales' defeats to France and England in the 2012 European Championship.
When he returned to Warrington ahead of the 2013 campaign, he joined Bradford Bulls, who were then in Super League, on a one-year loan.
It was in the March that Evans made his first-team debut at the age of 20, as he appeared for the Bulls in a Challenge Cup fourth round encounter with Rochdale Hornets.
He made a total of 17 appearances for Bradford in 2013, with the Odsall club finishing ninth in the Super League table.
Following the conclusion of his club season, Evans was named in Wales' squad for Rugby League World Cup 2013 and featured in the group matches against Italy and USA.
As 2013 was the last time that he pulled on the red jersey, he is excited by the prospect of featuring in another World Cup this autumn.
"Over the last couple of years, I have struggled a lot with injuries," Evans said.
"I was hoping to play for Wales last year, but I had an injury. It was the same the year before that.
"I'm now hoping to be selected in the final squad and appear for Wales at this World Cup.
"In the last World Cup, there is no doubt that we underachieved.
"Four years on, a lot of the boys who played in the last World Cup have had four more years of international rugby and playing in Super League."
After playing in the 2013 World Cup, Evans began to feature for Warrington in 2014 and made 18 appearances in all that season.
However, his game time the following season was more limited as he played for the Wolves on four occasions.
Ben after a London victory over Sheffield
Last season, he spent time out on loan with Leigh Centurions, who were promoted to Super League, and on dual-registration with the Wolves' partner club Rochdale Hornets.
After the conclusion of the 2016 campaign, Evans made a permanent move and joined Championship club London Broncos ahead of the current season.
Since making his Broncos debut against Oldham in round three, the prop has been ever present in Andrew Henderson's line-ups.
"All of my family are still based in Warrington, but I had to get away from Warrington as I needed a change," Evans said.
"I'm playing a lot more minutes here and I'm really enjoying my rugby.
"Our goal was to finish in the top two in the Championship and we've done that. The short-term goal now is to get promoted back up to Super League."
After playing at numerous different home venues over the last decade or so, the Broncos are now based at Ealing Trailfinders.
According to Evans, there is a good atmosphere at the club given the impressive work that is going on both on and off the pitch.
"I know that they have previously struggled with grounds and changing facilities," he said.
"We now play and train at Ealing and it's a great set-up at the ground. They've really put a lot into the move to Ealing."
With Evans now playing on a regular basis and enjoying his rugby at the high-flying Broncos, he will no doubt be hoping to be on the plane to Australia come October.
Don't forget: despite playing at the highest level for some time and having made his debut for Wales five years ago, he is still only 24 and has plenty of time to develop his game further.
Ben, his girlfriend and their dog
Ben, brother Rhys and their partners
Name: Ben Evans
Current club: London Broncos
Community club: Bridgend Blue Bulls
Eligibility: Born in Bridgend
Date of birth: 30/10/92
Wales heritage: #485; Wales caps: 4; Wales tries: 1; Wales debut: 20/10/12; last Wales appearance: 03/11/13
SEE BEN'S FULL RECORD FOR WALES HERE
YOU CAN FOLLOW BEN ON TWITTER: @benevans108
YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW BEN ON INSTAGRAM: @bennyevans21
Wales' group matches at Rugby League World Cup 2017 are as follows:
PAPUA NEW GUINEA V WALES
Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby
FIJI V WALES
WALES V IRELAND
Perth Rectangular Stadium
Support Wales on their World Cup journey by purchasing the new shirt. Visit the online shop HERE.
Images from Ben Evans, London Broncos and www.ianlovell.com