Jarrod Evans is aiming to floor the Dragons on Boxing Day to prove his title of Wales’ current fly-half champion is one he deserves.
The 23-year-old has only won three caps but will move into 2020 as the current holder of the red No.10 shirt after playing in the national side’s most recent match against the Barbarians last month.
Evans will hope to continue his recent form against the resurgent Dragons when the teams meet at the Arms Park on Thursday in the Guinness Pro14 derby.
But although the Blues tyro is one of Welsh rugby’s brightest young talents, he didn’t have it all his own way in 2019 as he missed out on selection for the World Cup at the last minute.
Evans and rival Rhys Patchell played a half each in the warm-up clash with Ireland, but it was the latter who was named in the squad by then head coach Warren Gatland the next day.
It was a blow Evans admits he struggled to recover from, but he is now back on form and leading a Blues back-line playing some enterprising rugby.
“It was tough with not being selected for the World Cup and it probably affected some of my regional performances at the start of this year,” said Evans.
“But I’ve turned the corner now, parked it, and it’s gone – I can’t do anything about it. I’m going to try and stay positive and look forward. Hopefully selection can come my way internationally.
“The Ireland game taught me how to deal with things a little bit better, probably more in terms of stuff off the field because after that it was pretty tough to get going again.
“That was the only week I had in charge of the team and I learned a lot from the camp itself and I hope to take that with me moving forwards.”
Evans started Wales’ first game under Gatland’s successor Wayne Pivac – a non capped international with the Baa Baas. His direct rivals Gareth Anscombe and Patchell are both currently out injured, but Northampton’s Dan Biggar will surely start the Six Nations opener with Italy on February 1.
Still, Evans hopes the similarity between the attacking approach Pivac wants with Wales and what his Blues head coach John Mulvihill demands can help him stay involved at Test level.
“It does help because it’s an easy transition going back into the Wales camp from the players who are here at the Blues,” he added.
“I do see a little bit more of an attacking style under the new Wales coaches, but if I’m not putting in performances for my club it won’t warrant me selection.
“Most of the boys – including me – enjoyed a different voice and a different way of playing with different tactics in November. I got a chance for the Barbarians game and it was an enjoyable week and something different. Now I just need to keep focused and see where I can get to.
“I’m looking forward to the Christmas derbies and the more you become known as a player, the more teams target you and try to shut you down.
“It’s almost like a trial period you could say for some of the players, but you have to park that to the back of your mind and do what’s best for the team at the time. The most important thing is the win and that’s what I’ll be doing – trying to play as well as I can for the Blues.”