Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Nine Reasons Why Harlequins and England Should Thank Evans; Club Stand on Verge of Winning First Title after Kiwi Fly-Half's Efforts to Develop This Country's Next Generation of Stars by Chris Jones

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Nine Reasons Why Harlequins and England Should Thank Evans; Club Stand on Verge of Winning First Title after Kiwi Fly-Half's Efforts to Develop This Country's Next Generation of Stars by Chris Jones

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones

[bar] ARLEQUINS have worked hard to consign the Bloodgate scandal to history but Dean Richards, the architect of their darkest day, is responsible for their most important signing.

Kiwi fly-half Nick Evans would have been lining up against Quins in Saturday's Aviva Premiership Final at Twickenham were it not for the selling powers of their former director.

The 31-year-old moved to the Stoop in 2008 after Richards's pitch convinced him to ignore an offer from Leicester, a club Richards had helped turn into a European powerhouse and the most feared outfit in England.

Four years on, Evans -- who was last night crowned the players' player of the year -- is the tactical fulcrum of Quins' challenge for a first Premiership title while Richards is about to complete a three-year ban for the leading role he played in the scandal that rocked the club.

Evans knew little about Quins when he spoke to Richards -- who returns to the game next season as Newcastle director of rugby -- apart from the fact that former All Blacks stars including Zinzan Brooke and Andrew Mehrtens had pulled on the famous multi-coloured jersey.

He made the 12,000-mile journey here on the understanding that the club had an outstanding group of young academy players who needed a guiding hand to make the big time.

With Evans pulling the strings, no fewer than nine players have burst onto the Premiership scene with such effect they will be on England's summer tour to South Africa under the captaincy of Quins' Chris Robshaw, who has come of age this season.

Evans, justly proud of the part he has played in maximising the talent produced by the Academy, said: "I had an option to go to Leicester who then had Argentina's Marcelo Loffreda as coach. He was looking at Juan Martin Hernandez at the same time and it got a little bit messy. I knew a lot about Leicester because of their titles and they had All Black Aaron Mauger, who told me about their fantastic players. …

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