Bradford Bulls: Evans remains open to offers from Francis Cummins (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Bulls: Ben Evans could stay to fight for place at Warrington
Nobody seems quite sure what the future holds for Ben Evans this coming season, least of all the player himself.
The Warrington and Wales forward enjoyed a successful season-long loan with the Bulls in 2013 and was expected to return to Odsal in a similar arrangement this year.
For now, though, he remains with his parent club as the Bulls look to make savings by potentially offloading players as opposed to adding to their squad.
Evans is still on Francis Cummins’ radar and it is not inconceivable that the 21-year-old will be wearing the red, amber and black of Bradford again in 2014.
Like the rest of the rugby league world, Evans is watching developments at Odsal closely as the Bulls seek a resolution to their ongoing ownership saga.
Evans, who along with twin brother Rhys represented Wales in the World Cup, played for Warrington in their opening pre-season friendly at Widnes last Sunday.
He said: “I’ll see what happens at Bradford because I think that was the initial plan; for me to go back there on loan again.
“That was the talk at the back end of last season and I think it would have happened if things had been okay there.
“I don’t know as much as all the other boys about what’s happening at Bradford but I’m just going to carry on as I am at Warrington and see what happens.
“All the off-field stuff is out of my control and I’ve just got to do what I can, which is train hard and play hard.
“I’ve just been told ‘start back with Warrington, train there and wait until Bradford can sort things out’.
“I then might go out on loan or I might stay at Warrington depending on certain things.
“But I’ve not really thought about it to be honest. I’ve just got my head down and worked hard at Warrington.
“I’m really enjoying pre-season here and it was good to get a run-out at Widnes on Sunday.”
Ironically, Evans made his Super League debut against Warrington during the Bulls’ trip to the Halliwell Jones Stadium in April. The imposing Welshman, who can operate in the front and back row, also has one eye on forcing his way into Tony Smith’s Warrington side.
Following the departure of Adrian Morley, Garreth Carvell and Mike Cooper, Evans potentially has a chance to stake his claim.
He said: “I’m in the last year of my contract at Warrington so if I don’t go out on loan again then hopefully I can try and establish myself here.
“I’ve just got to do my best and hopefully that will be enough to keep me here and push my way in.
“It’s just been a case of me getting my head down, working hard in pre-season and letting things pan out.
“I’ve had the taste of Super League now and if the opportunity was there to go to Bradford and play every week if I didn’t play at Warrington, then that’s where I’d want to go.
“If Warrington want to play me there then I’d be happy with that as well. I’m happy either way to be honest.”
What is not in doubt is the benefit Evans gained from his season with the Bulls.
His debut did not come until late April, in a Challenge Cup romp at Rochdale, and followed a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a nagging hip problem which required surgery.
Once Evans made his bow, he steadily established himself in Cummins’ first-choice 17.
“Going to Bradford is one of the best things I’ve ever done,” he said.
“When you go on a season-long loan, the first thing you want to do is earn the respect of your team-mates by training well and playing well.
“When I first arrived at Bradford I couldn’t do that, which was frustrating.
“But when I started playing I was playing every week, so you really feel a part of things as you are going through the same things as your team-mates on the field. It brings you closer together and I really enjoyed my time at the Bulls.
“Playing the amount of games I did last year at Bradford definitely helped me on and off the field.
“It was totally different to Warrington with me travelling over every day, which meant longer days, but it was great.”
Evans cites the dramatic 26-20 defeat at Wigan in July as the most memorable match he played in.
“Even though we lost, it was an incredible game with some big tackles and some good tries,” he said.
At the end of the domestic campaign, Evans played for Wales in the World Cup and, despite their three straight defeats, the tournament was an experience to savour for Ben and twin brother Rhys.
He said: “For Rhys and I to play in the first match after the opening ceremony against Italy at the Millennium Stadium was a bit of a fairytale.
“We had both played there for our school as youngsters and that’s where we got scouted by Warrington.
“That was eight years ago so to go back to Cardiff, which is 20 minutes from where we grew up in Bridgend, to play for Wales was amazing.
“It’s a pity the result didn’t go our way but, again, it was another invaluable experience in my career.”
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