Long Read Interview: Bevan French

It’s been yet another stellar season for Wigan Warriors ace Bevan French. 

The Australian again sees himself again named in the Super League Dream Team; however this year he has been included in the halves. He has had a fantastic season in this new role, where he notched an impressive 30 try assists in the regular season and adding a new dynamic to his already loaded attacking arsenal.

Speaking to Serious About Rugby League, French highlighted how he has found the transition into the halves:

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” said French. “A lot of people asked me and they thought it might be quite a hard transition but I’m just very grateful and lucky to be in a squad that I focus on my job.”

He added: “It’s a very different position obviously from the wing but the transition has been not as hard as everyone thinks it will be. It just comes down to the squad that I’m around.”

French also cited some people who have helped him make the transition into the halves, saying: “It’s a very simple job at times and Harry takes a lot of the pressure off me and he takes leadership of the majority of the squad. I’ve got people like Tommy (Leuluai) in the coaching staff that helps me along with the role and Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) is helping me here and there and Matty’s a great coach as well.”

Being named in the Dream Team wasn’t the only success French had over the weekend, as his team were crowned League Leaders Shield winners on Friday night. French spoke on the emotions of winning the Shield: “We’re still soaking in the League Leaders Shield, everyone’s happy with the outcome but it was a really tough game.”

He later remarked: “I think everyone’s still in recovery mode from the game and then to be named in this dream team now, obviously we’re very privileged to be here and I’m very grateful for it.”

Whilst the League Leaders Shield isn’t the main piece of silverware the Warriors want this season, French highlighted the edge it can provide ahead of the play-offs: “I guess in a little bit it does (add an edge) but to be honest it’s a whole different ballgame once you get to the semi-finals. The atmosphere goes through the roof, the intensity goes through the roof, there’s little margin, there’s little room for error to be honest.”

“It does give you a little confidence boost but I guess we know as a club that it’s a whole different ball game once you step into the semi-finals. Like I said the intensity goes through the roof and I guess everyone brings it up a notch. It’s just something we set out for that goal and we’re just happy that we got it. There’s a little bit of confidence but  we’re definitely not going to head about that.”

With the result on Friday, Wigan now have a week off before that all important semi-final; however French explained the Warriors would not treat it lightly: “I think as you’ve seen last week, the intensity of that game was quite high. It’s only going to be the same this week again when the teams play each other and you have to back it up this week.”

He added: “In saying that, I guess it’s not a week off for us really. We’re still going to have to go into training this week and get high intensity, get the metres in the legs and things like that. I think quite a few teams have made that mistake in the past where they have a week off and then they’re slow out of the blocks the following week.”

“I guess it’s a good thing to have the week off because you want to freshen up and get away from the intensity but you can’t take it lightly.”

The Cherry and Whites have hit form at the perfect time, and will be carrying plenty of momentum into that semi-final. They have started scoring points for fun of late, notching an impressive 168 points in their last five games, which also saw them beat Catalans Dragons, Leeds Rhinos and Leigh Leopards. On Wigan’s impressive form in attack, French said: “The last couple of years I think it’s been a big focus for us on our attack. This year was the complete opposite. We wanted to be a tough team, a gritty team.”

He added: “I guess it’s weird, once we took our focus off attack, the points started to come. It was a weird thing. It’s definitely not a main focus of ours.”

He also said the personnel across the backline have helped rack up some impressive scores: “We know we’ve got people in our backline that can score points from anywhere on the field, people like Harry that can direct us in the right way to get there and do all the points that we need to do. It’s not a main focus at all, it just happens for us naturally.”