Nick Evans was kind enough to take time out to catch up with RD ahead of a big rugby year, particularly in his native New Zealand. Among other things, he touched on his golfing prowess, an incredible dropgoal, and what it will take for the All Blacks to win the World Cup at home.RD: You’ve been in the UK a while now – how different is everyday life to what you experienced in New Zealand as a professional player?Nick:
Rugby is the same wherever you are in the world. It’s all about running, kicking and contact and that doesn’t change whether you are playing in New Zealand, England or anywhere else for that matter.
Off the pitch New Zealand is definitely more relaxed, that's for sure. No traffic, no stress and if you want Sky installed you can get it the next day. In England it's never that easy!With you seemingly out of the Test rugby picture, who would be your choice from the current crop to A) Play second fiddle to Carter at the World Cup, and B) Be the man to take over in the long run?
Graham Henry has already gone with Stephen Donald as back up and it looks like he will be there for the World Cup. From a personal point of view I'd go with Colin Slade. He can play at both 10 and 15 and I'm a big fan of versatility. You never know what might happen in terms of injuries so quality cover in all positions is important and that's what Colin provides.
In terms of the man to take over from Dan Carter I think it's still a bit early to tell. It's a tricky one because those are going to be big boots to fill so let's wait and see.With next year’s World Cup in mind, what do you think will be the best way for New Zealand to deal with the immense pressure that will be placed on them at home, and who is best placed to challenge them?
The best way to deal with the pressure is to embrace it. In 2007 we shut ourselves off and by doing that it became more intense. It's going to be a huge occasion but it's important for the guys to try and enjoy as much of it as they can.
South Africa and Australia are probably best placed to challenge New Zealand. Both have beaten the Kiwis in the last couple of years and will take a lot of confidence from those results. Having said that I don't see anyone stopping New Zealand in their own backyard next year.Was the decision to not return to NZ - to give the World Cup a shot - a difficult one to make, or one that was never really something you considered?
It was the hardest rugby decision I’ve ever had to make. I knew when I signed a three year deal with Quins that I would be hard pushed to get back in the team for the World Cup however, looking back I don’t regret the decision at all.England’s forgotten man, Danny Cipriani, will play for the Melbourne Rebels in the Super Rugby tournament next year – what advice would you give to Northern Hemisphere players who make a similar move?
It’s a great move for young and upcoming players to experience life and rugby in the southern hemisphere. There are noticeable differences in the way the game is coached with real emphasis placed on developing the core skills.
It’s a gutsy move for Danny to make but if he applies himself in the right way he’ll return to England a better player. No one individual is bigger than the team in Australia and if he finds himself in the spotlight for non-rugby reasons that won’t go down well.What’s life at Harlequins like since Bloodgate? Forgotten about, or a valuable lesson that’s made everyone closer as a result?
It’s forgotten about and now it is up to us, as players, to continue rebuilding the reputation of the club on the pitch by performing well in both domestic and European competition. The feeling around the training ground is very good at the moment and long may that continue.Talk us through that dropgoal you slotted against Stade Francais in 2008.
Where do I start? It was one of the most exciting games I’ve been involved in and the finish wasn’t bad either! I still wonder how that final play lasted 29 phases in such terrible conditions. We could have dropped the ball, we almost scored in the corner – anything could have happened. I thought about the drop goal twice but both times decided we were still a little too far out.
The team dug deep and thankfully I was able to get it over. It was a great moment for the players, the fans and the whole club.Having turned 30 a few months back, have you put a number on how much longer you aim to play professional rugby?
You do think about it but as long as I am enjoying training and working with the guys then that is what matters. I would be happy with four or five more years but as long as the body holds up the sky is the limit.Do you manage to get out on the golf course much these days, and what’s your handicap?
Yeah I do. Myself and Tom Williams play together and usually take on the forwards, Matt Cairns and Mark Lambert. I play off 15 but Matt’s handicap is 6. Just for the record the backs are 5-2 up at the moment!Brendan Venter – comedian, headcase, or revolutionary?
As a rugby man you have to give him a lot of respect for what he has achieved in the game. I did see the interview he gave the other day and it was very strange but heh, that’s the sort of thing that makes him who he is.We spoke to Nick at The Red Lion pub in Isleworth over a pint of Greene King IPA, the Official Beer of Harlequins and England Rugby. Get behind the scenes access and win tickets to see Quins in action at www.greenekingipa.co.uk