Wales' summer find impresses opponents and makes team-mates laugh

Ellis Bevan of Wales
-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd)


It's been a while since Wales' scrum-half stable was added to.

For reference, the last time before this summer that a nine was handed a Test debut, the Principality Stadium was being used as a makeshift Covid hospital, Wayne Pivac was less than a year into the job and Alun Wyn Jones wasn't yet Test rugby's most-capped player.

In the four years since, it's been the same old faces revolving around the scrum-half jersey for Wales. However, in recent weeks, Cardiff's Ellis Bevan has forced his way into that exclusive club - becoming the first scrum-half to be capped by Wales since November 2020.

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However, not only has Bevan been capped, he's started both summer matches against South Africa and Australia so far - taking to Test rugby impressively.

"I was unaware of the stats about scrum-halves being capped," Bevan told WalesOnline's Welsh Rugby Podcast in Melbourne. "When I got the email, I was chuffed.

"I told my dad and when it came out, that was when it probably sunk in, seeing it online. I just said to myself to just be a sponge.

"Go in there, learn, develop. Hopefully, if you can get a cap, brilliant. I did try and come in to get a cap, I'd never go in to just be a number.

"I just wanted to learn, develop and take everything in. If something came off the back of it, then great. Obviously I've been given the opportunities against South Africa and Australia."

It's the culmination of a fine end to the season for Bevan. Injury to club team-mate Tomos Williams in the final match of the Six Nations provided the 24-year-old with a run of starts for Cardiff.

With Williams heading to Gloucester next year, Bevan is now set to be the main man at the Arms Park next season. And he'll do it as a Wales international, too.

"You never wish injury on anyone," added Bevan about Williams. "He's not only a competitor of mine, he's a friend of mine.

"I've been lucky to train with him and be in the environment alongside him. But sometimes opportunities come off the back of injuries. I'd never wish it on anyone, definitely not someone like Tomos who is a great player and great bloke.

"Obviously, when the opportunity came with him getting injured, I never thought it would be the chance to get into the Wales squad. It was more getting starts for Cardiff and going that way, getting my house in order there first.

"Playing well and earning the trust of coaches. Developing, because I'm at the early stage of my career. I knew I had a couple of games at the end of the season to start. With that came opportunity and the Wales selectors saw something in me they must have liked and hopefully I've proven them right."

And now he's in the set-up, the scrum-half is hungry for more.

"It has been the dream to play for Wales," he said. "To do it twice and start twice has been brilliant. If someone had said I'd do that a year or two ago, that would have been the dream.

"If I did that, I'd have been so content. But it's a bit like a drug - not that I take any! - in that you want more and more. I'm not content with where I am right now.

"And I won't be. I just want to keep going, keep developing and see where I can get to. The new dream is to play more and play well. The dream doesn't stop. You hit one pillar and you just move to the next."

Given his rapid rise to Test rugby, Bevan was something of an unknown. Speaking to those in Wallabies camp earlier this week, the precise box-kicking of the scrum-half was the thing they'd been least prepared for last Saturday.

Bevan takes the compliment and admits it's a part of the game he prides himself on. Working closely with Neil Jenkins, he adds, also helps in that department.

Another of his former team-mates at Cardiff also helped him, with Bevan clearly someone keen to learn from others.

"There's two scrum-halves who have played quite a pivotal part in my career," he says. "Tomos Williams and Lloyd Williams.

"They were both great to me when I came in as a 20-year-old. To be honest, I'm probably more of a passive learner from Tomos. He does stuff on instinct.

"Lloyd gave me that time one-to-one, especially the kicking game. I could learn more technique stuff with him. Tomos was more a case of watch him, try and do things.

"But at the end of the day, I don't want to be any other player than myself. I know the best version of me. At the same time, I do want to pick things from other players as they do stuff really well. I'm at the early stage of my career and I'm not the finished article.

"So if I can pick up Aaron Smith's pass, Tomos' running game or Conor Murray's box-kicking game, I will do that if it benefits me in the long run. But also knowing that I'm my own player and I bring my own style to my game."

Given the timing between a World Cup and Lions tour, as well as the distance from home, not a great deal of players' families have made the trip down under. Luckily for Bevan, his brother lives in Bondi and was at the match in Sydney last week.

He'll be there in Melbourne again on Saturday, with his dad also flying out to watch. "They'll hopefully see me play," says Bevan. And win, too.

It's been a while since Wales won. Eight defeats in a row, stretching back to last year, probably isn't the best environment to step into.

Yet, the mood in Wales camp seems relatively upbeat at the moment. Bevan, tasked with joke of the day duties by committee, might have a part to play in that.

"I don't want to blow my trumpet but I've actually done quite well," he says. "Two jokes down and a good group laugh at the end. I'll take it."

As for Wales' search for a victory, Bevan is as determined as any other in the squad to finally end it this weekend.

"Despite only being in camp for a short amount of time, I've been a Wales fan for life," says Bevan. "I've known about the recent record, following them and my friends.

"But speaking about the mood in camp, it's all about our next job and next opportunity. That's it, really. It's all about beating the Wallabies on home soil.

"We really do think we'll do it. I believe we'll do it. But we've got to get our house in order first. I believe we can, we're training well. We're really excited for the opportunity and when opportunities like this come, you've got to take them."