Evans latest to credit Fijian influence
Jarryd Hayne credited the experience of playing with Fiji in the 2008 World Cup for making him the man he is today and now Roosters enforcer Kane Evans says the 2013 World Cup camp helped him to turn his life around.
Along with Eels winger Semi Radradra, Evans is one of two Fijian representatives in the World All Stars team to take on the Indigenous all Stars at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night with Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and England also represented.
Now 24 years of age, Evans played five Tests for Fiji as a 21-year-old at the 2013 World Cup but said it was the pre-tournament camp in Fiji that helped him to forge a deep connection with the nation of his mother's birth.
"Our Fijian culture is based on God and ever since I went on camp with the World Cup Fijian team with Petero [Civoniceva], my life's turned around since then. I'm just so proud to be a Fijian," Evans told NRL.com.
"We're all representing different nationalities but we're all bringing our own sense of humour. Semi is really quiet but when you spend some time with him he starts singing Fijian songs. It's mad.
"Then we've got Konrad Hurrell from Tonga who is the Fresh Tongan and Nene [Macdonald] from PNG and the other boys representing Samoa and Australia and England.
"Just to see everyone together and listening to all the banter and everyone getting along and playing together, it's a great week."
While the game has witnessed some negative off-field incidents in recent weeks Evans is an example of one of many NRL players who contribute positively through community work.
When Trent Merrin suggested an additional visit to the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane on Thursday Evans and Adam Reynolds both volunteered their time to attend and brighten the day of some kids who are doing it tough.
Although he didn't want the actual charity named, Evans also volunteers for a few hours every Tuesday night in Sydney and says it is a small way to express how grateful he is to be playing rugby league for a living.
"I'm just grateful to be here and I reckon I'm blessed to be able to play rugby league as a living, especially to be a part of the All Stars team," said Evans, who has just purchased a house for his parents so they can move out of the house they have rented for the past 23 years.
"'Mez' [Merrin] and Adam Reynolds were doing it and I thought I would go just to give back and try and make some less fortunate kids happy.
"They didn't really notice me but it was good just to go and sign some signatures and put some smiles on their faces, especially facing what they're going through.
"Just to be able to bring happiness to kids, I still can't believe I can bring that to a person just through what I do playing footy."
A City Origin representative in 2015, Evans gets his first chance to impress Blues coach Laurie Daley when he comes off the bench for the World All Stars against Daley's Indigenous All Stars team on Saturday, the difficult decision of representative allegiances looming larger each year.
"My goal is to represent NSW one day in State of Origin. If I get to a point where I do get selected and I have to make that decision... I'm a proud New South Welshman, a proud Australian and a proud Fijian," he said.
"If I got picked for Origin I'd definitely play Origin. Even if you talk to Petero, he was playing Origin and for Australia his whole career and then the last two years he played with Fiji in the World Cup and the tour and even he said that it was one of the best camps that he'd ever done. That's big words coming from him and I think that goes with the Fijian culture.
"It's a hard decision because that's the best life experience I've had.
"If I had to pick between Fiji and Australia, I couldn't pick because I'm half of each and I'm so proud of both cultures that are in me."
Kane Evans (far right) with World All Stars teammates Adam Reynolds and Trent Merrin at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.