Rhys Evans hopes to be Grand Final's pride of Wales for Warrington

By Steve TuckerBBC Wales Sport
Rhys Evans
Welshman Rhys Evans is hoping to help Warrington Wolves win their first Grand Final since 1955
Challenge Cup final: Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors
Date: Saturday, 8 October Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester Kick-off: 18:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary 5 Live Extra and second half commentary on 5 Live, the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Rhys Evans is aiming to be a Welshman on a Grand Final mission as Warrington Wolves enter the the frenzied atmosphere at Old Trafford for Rugby League's showpiece event against Wigan Warriors.

As Warrington Wolves clash with Wigan Warriors, Bridgend-born Rhys Evans is hoping the backing of his home nation is going to help Wolves end a 61-year wait to land the sport's top accolade.

For 23-year-old Evans victory would prove the culmination of a long journey.

Scouted by Warrington as a schoolboy, along with twin brother Ben who is injured and currently transfer listed, the family uprooted from south Wales so the sons could pursue their dream.

Evans is aware of the sacrifices made, in particular those by his mum Jane, who will be among the near-75,000 supporters in the 'Theatre of Dreams'.

"I'm proud of where I've come from," Evans told BBC Wales Sport.

"I moved up to Warrington at a young age. I took a risk just to play in games like this.

"There will be immense pride when I step out on that field. I'll be representing my family and my country as well. It will be a great achievement.

"Fair play to mum. She's played a massive part in my career. Ben and me would not be where we are now without her."

Evans also hopes some history will be laid to rest against Wigan.

The two sides have already met three times this season with the Warriors twice bettering the Wolves.

Rhys Evans
For the first time since they joined Warrington as teenagers Rhys Evans and his twin brother Ben will be split up when Ben leaves the Wolves at the end of this season

What's more, Warrington have twice come close to ending their Grand Final drought, losing to Leeds Rhinos in 2012 and Wigan a year later.

"The last time we played Wigan was about two weeks ago and they got the better of us on that occasion so, fingers crossed, we can change that on Saturday," said Evans.

"You could say there's some payback, but they played well on the day and we didn't play to our potential.

"It's buzzing around here. We've been to the Grand Final twice in the last few years and we've come up short so to win it for the first time in 60-odd years would be a great achievement for the players and the staff and everyone involved with the club."

The question remains of course, how did a young lad from the rugby union hotbed of Bridgend ended up playing league?

The school they attended, Brynteg Comprehensive School, is renowned as having produced rugby stars such as JPR Williams, Robert Howley and Gavin Henson.

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But during their time there, the Evans brothers came under the influence of Kevin Ellis, a former Bridgend RFC player who went on to play for Wales and Great Britain at rugby league after joining Warrington Wolves.

The young Evans played union for Tondu in the winter and league with his school in the summer with a bit of football thrown in too.

If the Evans boys needed a quirk of fate, it happened when rebuilding Wembley Stadium meant the 2005 Challenge Cup final was switched to what is now Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

The brothers played for Brynteg in the National School's Championship final ahead of the big game and were spotted by scouts from Warrington.

"It got to where we were 13 or 14 and Warrington expressed a serious interest in both of us," said Evans.

"It was down to my mum really, she said, 'whatever you guys want to do I will back it', she'll move up or whatever. Me and Ben had a conversation and said if we really want to give this a good crack we need to be up there 24/7."

Apart from a Grand Final win, Evans is also hoping to finally fulfil his potential on the international stage by helping Wales qualify for next year's World Cup being held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Rhys Evans
Rhys Evans' only Wales caps so far came in the 2013 World Cup

Due to injuries Evans has been limited to just three Wales caps so far and has made himself unavailable for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Italy due to his Grand Final commitments.

He counts playing in the last World Cup in 2013 on home soil as one of the best moments of his career so far.

"The fact it was just about 10 years on at the exact same stadium where me and Ben got scouted for Warrington it was a massive thing," said Evans.

"And for my mum to watch both her boys at a full stadium, she couldn't have been prouder.

"Last few years I've had some issues with injuries which has involved me not playing for Wales, but, fingers crossed, we can get to the World Cup next year and that will be a great experience."

But what many fans, of both union and league, will be keen to know is whether Evans might ever return to his homeland and take up the 15-side a game once more?

Evans though is keeping his cards close to his chest only commenting: "You never know, sport can change very quickly.

"I've got another year on my contract at Warrington, but then, you never know, we'll just have to wait and see."

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