Ospreys: Ian Evans out to rise above European row
BEING noticed shouldn't be too difficult if you're 6ft 8in and are frequently required to soar to heights the majority of people only ever get to visit via a ladder.
But, all the same, Ian Evans is conscious of the need to keep a high profile over the coming weeks and months.
The big man is one of six Welsh Lions who are out of contract this summer. He could stay at the Ospreys, but the row over the Heineken Cup has prompted uncertainty over budgets in Welsh rugby next season, raising the prospect that Evans and the others could leave.
Whatever happens, he feels it isn't going to hurt if he reminds the world how capable he is as a second row.
"Is it difficult to stay focused given my contract situation? Not really, no," he said ahead of the Pro12 encounter against Ulster at the Liberty Stadium tomorrow evening.
"The more games you play, the more you are able to put yourself in the window.
"That said, I hope the dispute over the Heineken Cup is sorted out sooner rather than later.
"It is a great tournament, featuring all the top teams in Europe. You are not going to get a better competition in northern hemisphere rugby and it would be a shame if it was to go and a new competition were to come in instead. I just wouldn't see the point of that. But, presumably, it's all down to money.
"You can understand the position the regions are in, not knowing what their budgets are going to be. The powers-that-be need to sort it out."
Ospreys' supporters will hope Evans is still around next term. He is, after all, one of the most popular fixtures at the Liberty, as affable as they come and acknowledged by his fellow players as king of dressing room banter.
There is also a serious side to him as one of the mainstays of the Ospreys' pack, a go-to man at the line-out who uses his strength, quick feet and telescopic reach to command aerial battles.
He celebrates his 29th birthday tomorrow, but doesn't accept he has peaked as a player.
"You never stop learning," he said.
"They say the older you get the better you get, so I'm keeping hold of that theory.
"How will I celebrate my birthday? Hopefully, by playing well against Ulster and helping the team get the right result. I may have one or two drinks afterwards, but no more.
"Sacrifices are worthwhile. The only way you are going to achieve anything in a professional sport is by making sacrifices. That's what makes it better when you do achieve things."
Evans probably shouldn't expect Ulster to bring any presents along tomorrow evening, though.
They have got their act together after a slow start to the season, winning their last two games, and will want a good performance before heading into Europe.
"They are usually up there in the play-offs at the end of the season and will be looking to come to Swansea to take our scalp," said Evans.
"But we want to make the Liberty intimidating, like a fortress.
"We know what to expect from Ulster, who their players are and what makes them tick. Hopefully, if we stick to our game-plan, we can keep our run going."
Competition is certainly firing the Ospreys, with no-one sure of a place. "If you don't have competition you won't progress," said Evans.
"You need players on your heels and, fortunately, that is what we have at the Ospreys.
"Lloyd Peers is on the mend after injury and just needs game-time to put pressure on myself and Alun Wyn Jones. It's up to us to try to produce good performances. If we don't it will give the others a chance to put their hands up.
"No-one can take anything for granted.
"If you have the attitude that your place is guaranteed, you are playing the wrong game. You want a situation where people have to earn their places. That's certainly what we are trying to create at the Ospreys. We haven't got a big budget like we used to have, but we can still generate a situation where everyone's pushing each other."