Remarkable rise to England squad has even surprised Will Evans
- Credit: Tigers Images
Four months ago Will Evans had only just made an unexpected Premiership debut for Leicester Tigers – now the Norfolk teenager is on the verge of stardom.
The incredible rise in profile was not lost on the 19-year-old either, as he took to Twitter to say: 'Probably the craziest afternoon of my life, who'd have thought it?'
That message followed the news that the Norwich-born flanker had been surprisingly named in England's provisional 45-man elite player squad (EPS) pre-season training camp.
The former Wymondham RFC junior has suddenly been catapulted into a squad alongside international stars such as Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola and James Haskell for the three-day training camp, starting on Saturday at the Lensbury Hotel in Middlesex.
His recognition follows a remarkable rise which culminated in him helping England to win the World Rugby Under-20 Championship on home soil this summer.
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Evans was named in the end-of-tournament Dream Team and now has the chance to prove to England head coach Eddie Jones that he is a player to keep an eye on.
The former Wymondham College student is one of 10 uncapped players and is likely to give way to a more experienced player when the final 45-man EPS squad is announced on September 30 ahead of the Old Mutual Wealth Series starting against South Africa at Twickenham on November 12.
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However it is still a huge opportunity for the youngster, who became the second-youngest forward to start a match for Leicester on Saturday, April 2 of this year, unexpectedly starting against Gloucester at the age of 19 years and 64 days.
Evans spoke to this newspaper following that landmark achievement in his career and was very much keeping his feet on the floor.
'I would imagine I'll be going back to Ampthill, it was only one game, it's not like I'm a world beater all of a sudden,' he said.
'I still need to play games but I would like to think Cockers (director of rugby Richard Cockerill) knows he can trust me now if he needs me.
'So I'll go back to Ampthill, learn a few more tricks and hopefully kick on from there.'
He could never have expected what was to follow though.
Three further Premiership appearances followed, also scoring two tries, in matches against Worcester and Bath.
His first England U20 call-up followed ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship, which was held in Greater Manchester.
After missing the opening game, Evans made a try-scoring debut in a 44-0 thrashing of Scotland in the pool stage and retained his starting place for the rest of the tournament – helping to beat Ireland 45-25 in the final at the end of June.
Little more than a month on and the forward has come to the attention of the senior coaches and now joins fellow Norfolk-born stars Ben and Tom Youngs in the EPS squad.
His full international debut could well still be some years away but Evans has now been given a tantalising glimpse into a future within his grasp, if he maintains his impressive momentum.