Above: Chris Eves packing down at tighthead prop in a Wellington club rugby Swindale Shield match in mid-2013 for his then club the Wests Roosters against Marist St Pat’s.
Chris Eves, perhaps one of the more unknown of the Hurricanes contingent, is an integral force off the bench for the unbeaten franchise.
Now into his third season within the Hurricanes’ squad, Eves has now become a permanent fixture in the playing 23 and will again start from the bench in the number 18 jersey on Friday.
The capital-based franchise continues on its merry way, claiming five scalps in their opening games which see them two points clear atop the ladder.
It’s been an age, but finally the team will run out at Westpac Stadium on Friday against the Melbourne Rebels who are no longer regarded as a minnow in the strong competition. Eves believes the rebellious challenge should test the competition leaders.
“All the teams are tough in the competition and they (Rebels) have had a couple of unlucky losses.
“There’s no easy beats anymore in the competition so it doesn’t matter, week-in-week-out , you’ve got to play your best because at the end of the day the best team will win and hopefully that’s us on Friday, and the way we’ve been going I don’t see why not,” Eves said.
Despite having made his home in the capital, Eves is originally from West Auckland and it is North Harbour where the 117kg prop learnt his trade.
Massey High School nurtured his early playing days and it was those college experiences that developed his hunger for turning sport into a career.
Eves played three years of 1st XV rugby for Massey, a team which saw him globe-trot the world with various rugby travels.
Overseas trips to Australia, Europe and South Africa in his final year gave him a sniff for the big time (He was also quick to point out that Massey went unbeaten on all international ventures).
It is no wonder then that Eves ended up in Portugal, getting a taste for overseas rugby and a different lifestyle.
“It was pretty sweet; I was actually going to play for Portugal in the 2011 world cup but they didn’t qualify so I came back and played back at Massey club level because I missed New Zealand rugby, it’s just too good.”
It was a friend who persuaded Eves to move to Wellington and try and make it professionally through the club rugby ranks. His first two years saw him at a struggling Wests side before moving to Johnsonville.
Regardless, Eves made enough impact to earn professional honours, along with his overseas credentials. It wasn’t long before he was pulled into the Hurricanes wider training squad back in 2013.
“It came as a surprise to me because one of the guys got injured so I was pretty lucky.
“I was in the academy training so I got called into the development team. Even to play with some of the Hurricanes back then was great.
Eves added another notch to his glowing credentials late last year, being a strong part of Manawatu’s most successful provincial side ever, winning the championship against Hawke’s Bay.
“It was a real good bunch of boys up there, a young team, but it was unbelievable, especially the atmosphere.
“The crowd really got behind us and pretty much pulled us through that game,” Eves said.
The propping stocks at the Hurricanes have never been better, with great depth and variety to choose from. Eves’ impact off the bench has kept the team churning out victories in the closing stages, and should continue to do so.
Naturally, a starting spot is the main goal; however, he is happy playing out his current role for the betterment of the team.
“Every player wants to start the game but it’s what’s best for the team and we’ve been going so well, especially Reggie (Goodes), he’s been one of our best.
“I just try and add impact off the bench and know that I gave everything for the team and pick the other boys up when I’m fresh.”
Eves is the ideal example of the solid depth at the, currently, unstoppable Hurricanes’ disposal.
Long may it last.