Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans is determined to drive Harlequins to a top-six finish as the Aviva Premiership Rugby season reaches the business end of proceedings.
Harlequins presently sit in sixth position in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and also reached the semi-final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup earlier this month, where they face Exeter Chiefs away, despite losing their final pool match against Sale Sharks.
It has been all change at The Stoop this season, with John Kingston taking top spot and Graham Rowntree and Nick Easter joining the Harlequins coaching staff.
But Evans, who is starting against Leicester Tigers this weekend, is confident his new look Harlequins are starting to find their feet and is predicting a strong Aviva Premiership Rugby run-in after an inconsistent start.
Last season did not go according to plan in boss Conor O’Shea’s final campaign at the club but Evans admits Harlequins are working overtime to right those wrongs in the final months of this season.
“Our first goal is to finish in the top-six, we want to get back into the Champions Cup, and top four is definitely after that,” said Evans.
“You get yourself there and you have a chance to win the trophy and that is what we want to do.
“It has just been inconsistent this year; we have just been very inconsistent at times and that’s frustrating. We play well at home and can’t play well away.
“We went to Worcester Warriors in the Anglo-Welsh Cup with a group that had barely played at all and they bought into everything that we wanted to do and got a result against a pretty good Worcester side.
“We need to be more accurate and I think we have got the group that can do that, we need to be more consistent and take that home form and do that on the road.
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“We have got a couple of big, important weeks coming up. We need to take this momentum that we have gained and transfer it into the league matches.
“Personally, I wish they were niggles, but I seem to be breaking bones for fun at the minute, but it has been very frustrating.
“I can be frustrated, but I can’t be disappointed because I have had a pretty good run of injuries in my career – they all just seem to be happening at the moment.
“They are not massive, I have just been trying to get myself fit and hopefully be able to play a part and help the team towards the back end of the season.
“My influence has probably been off the training field, I have been enjoying that part of it, but I want to get back out there and get on the field. That is what I am paid to do and what I want to do.”
Evans was speaking at the launch of this year’s Aviva #DriveSafer campaign alongside team-mates James Horwill and Tim Swiel.
As part of the campaign, Aviva and all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs are highlighting the dangers of dangerous driving caused by distractions, with a particular focus on the use of mobile phones.
Evans said: “I drive from Wimbledon to Guildford every day and when you are doing the same drive, I know how monotonous it can get.
“It is easy to switch off when the temptation of having your phone is there and you hear a text go off.
“We always talk about how quickly the picture changes in a rugby match, but that increases significantly when you’re travelling in a car at high speed.
“For me Aviva is on to a great thing here, just making driving safer. Don’t use your phone – it’s not worth it.”
🎥 Watch now | Head Coach Mark Mapletoft discusses building on the performance against Bath heading into Leicester Tigers on Friday night pic.twitter.com/7ZjF0TmYye
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In Evans’ absence, fellow half back Tim Swiel has been taking centre stage at The Stoop and the veteran Kiwi has backed his colleague to shine in his absence and drive Harlequins up the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
“Tim has been at the club for a while, longer than people think. He was brilliant when he first came in, he got thrust into the role pretty quickly,” said Evans.
“We are working hard with him to try and get him up to speed with how we want to play the game.
“You have to remember that he is only young and he has got a lot of learning to do and experience to gain.
“It is easy for me to sit here after 16 or 17 years and say you should be doing this or that.
“I took time to learn and he has done really well this year. We have asked him to improve his goal kicking and he has done that really well.”
Harlequins are proud to support Aviva, title sponsor of Premiership Rugby, on their #DriveSafer campaign and help raise awareness of dangerous driving. Download the Aviva Drive app to see how safe your driving is at www.aviva.co.uk/car-insurance/drive