Ryan Bevington: Ready to turn up heat after life in Osaka oven
SOME like it hot, but after his experiences in Japan with Wales this summer, Ryan Bevington is a convert to the merits of driving snow and icy winds, with a spell of cooling rain thrown in for good measure.
Certainly, the 24-year-old from Porthcawl will never complain about Welsh winters again.
He enjoyed his visit to the Far East with the national squad in June but had difficulty with the conditions and found his outing against Japan in Osaka akin to being spit roasted, grilled and micro-waved, all in the space of the longest 55 minutes of his life.
"It was 32 degrees and 67 per cent humidity in the early afternoon and as a front-rower running around I felt my insides were cooking," said Bevington.
"It sounds ridiculous, but that's how it was.
"We were getting in at half-time and having packs with crushed ice on our heads and slush puppies as well.
"We had ice on our wrists with the air conditioning on full blast and water thrown all over us. You cooled down but you went back out and five minutes later you felt ill again because it was so hot.
"Japan is a great country with a great culture and I enjoyed the tour.
"But I struggled with the heat.
"There again, if they came down to Sardis Road on a Friday night in December, under floodlights in the wind and cold, we would fancy our chances against them.
"I played 55 minutes in the first Test and everyone loses a few kilograms in the heat."
It is safe to assume Bevington will have a point to prove in the season ahead after failing to secure even a place on the bench in the second Test.
The youngster has in the past been rated by former Ospreys forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys as a world-class prop in the making, but Robin McBryde chose to start with Rhys Gill in Tokyo, with the Scarlets' Rhodri Jones among the replacements.
It proved a good Test to miss, with Bradley Davies's team becoming the first Wales side ever to lose to Japan.
But Bevington doesn't view it in those terms.
"I was disappointed not to play in the second Test," he said.
"You are paid to play rugby so you want to play. I was not happy with my first Test performance — maybe conditions got the better of me. I spoke to Robin McBryde later and he said he was not too happy, either, so that was fair enough.
"That was the call and that's that."
Bevington has already begun the rehabilitation process, running in a try against Bath last week with a trademark sprint finish.
But the ten-cap forward knows he will not be judged in the seasons ahead on how he finishes flowing handling movements. For him, it will be all about his scrummaging, lifting in the line-outs, carrying and defence around the field, with the fancy stuff a bonus.
"I'm just looking forward to playing regularly in the campaign ahead," he said.
"Last season was the first time for me to have regular rugby, because for years I was behind Paul James. I would have the odd 20 or 30 minutes each week but did not have many starts.
"The try last week? I am a bit of a fatty, so I just pick off wingers. If I see one of them running and I have the energy to get there I just run with him.
"I fancy my chances of an offload and nine times out of 10 it comes off."
Bevington will feature against Treviso in Italy on Saturday admitting he has been inspired by the efforts of the Ospreys' five Lions in Australia this summer.
"It was a great achievement for them and for the region," he said.
"It inspires you because you it shows what can be done. But the immediate priority is to do well for the Ospreys. We played Treviso in the first game last season, so we know what to expect.
"It will be a hard game but that's a good thing because it sets the bar high."