Bryn Evans loving being back in Super Rugby environment

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Back in New Zealand after a decade in British and French rugby, running out onto the enclosed Forsyth Barr Stadium was something he was looking forward to, especially not having to be concerned about Dunedin's weather.


Hawke's Bay-born Evans said after returning from England last year he had enjoyed playing for Hawke's Bay in the Mitre 10 Cup and his further involvement in Super Rugby had snowballed from that.


Before heading overseas in 2011, the 36-year-old, two-Test All Black had played 77 times for Hawke's Bay, three times for the Blues and 25 times for the Hurricanes.


He appeared 74 times for London Irish between 2011-14, had a 20-game season in France with Biarritz in 2014-15 and then ran up 102 games for Sale between 2015-20.


Highlanders coach Tony Brown had come calling after the Mitre 10 Cup season and with the feeling that he wasn't quite ready to retire Evans took up his offer to join the Highlanders.


Consulting with his younger brother, loose forward Gareth, who had 33 games for Otago and 44 for the Highlanders, had helped in the decision.


"He said, the environment, the coaches was all good and if I got a chance to be part of that I should go all in," he said.



That had resulted in a tough pre-season, his bones had been creaking but he had enjoyed being back in a Super Rugby side.


Compared to when he last played in the southern hemisphere competition, he felt the pace of the game had picked up and he wondered if that might be more the result of his coming out of Britain than anything else.


"I enjoyed the travel, the teams I played for, the relationships I made over there with a lot of guys from South Africa and England. It's a big mixing pot. I really enjoyed it. I met my wife over there, had a baby girl so I really enjoyed it," he said.


Playing much of his time with Sale, it had been a potpourri of nations with not only South Africans but Russians, Tongans et al. Coming together as a team in that situation was not a lot different to what the Highlanders traditionally face.


While he had headed south to Dunedin with the feeling that he would be able to put his experience to use for the side, especially the younger players, it didn't take long when getting into training that the desire to be involved in playing soon came to the fore.


"I'll be pushing as much as I can to have a go," he said.


Over the years playing with so many different players he had experienced some things they did that might be of value in Dunedin when the opportunities arose.


"I try my best to help guys around me in training and tell them things I've learnt, but I'm still learning off everyone else as well," he said.



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