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Evans will stake his Wales claim, says Priestland

Rising star: Jarrod Evans
Rising star: Jarrod Evans

By Steffan Thomas

Jarrod Evans has been backed to heap more pressure on struggling Ireland and throw his name into the hat to be Wales' World Cup bolter.

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Fly-half Evans (23) is set to make his first Test start in Saturday's warm-up clash with Joe Schmidt's men as part of a much-changed side to be named by head coach Warren Gatland.

Ireland will arrive in Cardiff still reeling from a 57-15 hammering by England at Twickenham in which they leaked eight tries.

The Principality Stadium clash is the last chance for Gatland's players to lay down a marker for Japan as the final 31-man party for the tournament will be named the following day.

Evans has only two substitute international appearances to his name, but Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland - who guided the Wales ship at the 2011 World Cup - is a big fan.

"Jarrod is a fantastic attacking player and the fact that Cardiff Blues played Gareth Anscombe at full-back to accommodate Jarrod shows how highly they rate him," he said.

"He's got a young head on old shoulders so I'm sure if he gets an opportunity, he'll flourish. If there is a time for Jarrod to start a big game it would be now."

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Priestland emerged from nowhere to help Wales to the 2011 semi-finals while he also featured at the last World Cup four years ago.

"Wales have been together for two months already and they'll have had the way they want to play drummed into them," added the 32-year-old, who won 50 caps. "If an inexperienced guy gets the nod at 10 then they will be well prepared.

"If there is a time for it then it would be now on the eve of the World Cup rather than an autumn Test where they'd only have a week or two to prepare."

Evans is set to be joined in the Wales side this weekend by international debutants Owen Lane and Rhys Carre. Gatland is expected to make up to 14 changes from the 13-6 win over England.

It's a big chance for Evans to impress after first-choice fly-half Anscombe was ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.

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