Feature Interview | Kat Evans relishing international and domestic accolades
Of all the great moments enjoyed by the 14 Saracens players who went on international duty last month arguably the best of them all was Kat Evans winning her first cap.
The 35-year-old was a very happy hooker when she was picked to make her Wales debut against Japan at Cardiff Arms Park. It came 22 years on from when she first picked up a ball at Rickmansworth School and proved that everything comes to those who persevere.
Lesser mortals might never have come back after five months out with a shoulder injury two years ago, while few can rival the tenacity she showed in overcoming a bad leg break that kept her off the field for almost three seasons. Lazarus eat your heart out!
All the pain and suffering must have felt worth it when she stood there in the red shirt of the land of her fathers and sang ‘Hen wlad fy nhadau’ for the first time. Now she wants more and is targeting the Six Nations in the New Year and then the World Cup in New Zealand.
Age is just a number and, as the ‘bronco’ tests proved in the Welsh camp she can more than keep up with players 10 years younger than her. If she needs any inspiration, then she needs look no further than Alun Wyn Jones and Ronaldo, who are both 36.
“People are always asking about my age, but what does it matter. As long as I can keep up and do my job then I can’t see a problem,” said Evans, who is one of three Sarries forwards in the Wales squad along with Georgia Evans and Donna Rose.
“I’m fitter than half of the players I’m playing with and against. Sometimes when I meet people I get the feeling that they feel my age should be holding me back – it doesn’t!
“Far from having any thoughts about retiring I’m setting my sights on going to next year’s World Cup. To do that I need to be playing well for Saracens in the first instance and that has always been my biggest motivation.
“We have such great strength in depth at the club and we all push each other on. It is a great environment to be a part of.”
The fact she is still a big part of the current squad is amazing when you go back over the history of her injuries. Ironically, one of the consequences of her breaking her leg was that she expanded her work as a PE teacher to become a sports therapist.
Kat runs Better Body Sports Rehabilitation at the Bushey Grove leisure centre where she specialises in rehabilitation from sports injuries, assessing, treating and working on a rehabilitation plan with her clients.
“I suffered a bad break to my tibia that forced me to spend almost four years out of rugby. In that time I underwent a lot of physio and rehab work and got very involved in the detail,” she added.
“It made me decide to get closer to that side of sport and I studied for a masters degree in sports rehabilitation. Now I split my working life between some teaching and helping people recover from injuries.
“A lot of it is the regular kind of back pain issues, but there are a few more sportsmen and women coming to me now. I can certainly tell them a thing or two about recovering from a broken leg.
“Two years into my recovery I was able to run again and tried to start playing again. It was such hard work to get to that point.
“I had treatment at the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health in Tottenham Court Road and it as there they noticed that I couldn’t bear as much weight on my previously broken leg as the other. I went back to the doctor and X-Rays showed that deep down in the bone the leg was still broken.
“I fought hard to come back and now it is all about making that effort worthwhile.”