There was no getting back into action for Bevan French. Fresh off his return to action for the Wigan Warriors after 10 months away, the Australian was in session with the club’s strength and conditioning team.
Spending what was left of the night after coming off the exchange bench on the wing in the second half of the 19-18 home win over Hull FC doing what he can to continue improving his fitness level shows French’s determination to make an impact after an injury-troubled 2021.
Indeed, the 26-year-old knows that’s exactly what he needs to do if he wants to replicate the performances that saw him earn a place in the 2020 Super League Dream Team and earn a Man of Steel nomination during of his first season with Wigan. .
“I’m still a long way from where I need to be,” French said. “The boys had a really tough pre-season and even being back now they still work very hard during the week as well.
“I missed a lot of things there and I have to take every opportunity I can to get back up to speed and be at my best.
“It felt like an eternity since I was out of the field. It was a long process to come back and I was just happy to have that feeling and to be on the pitch again. »
The return to fitness has been long and difficult for French, who was originally due to be out for 12 weeks after suffering a torn hamstring during Warriors’ Round 7 clash with Salford Red Devils in the Super League. last year.
A look back at Bevan French’s incredible hat-trick for Wigan Warriors against Salford Red Devils in 2020
However, it soon turned out that he needed surgery and the full-back was later allowed to return to Australia for family reasons to complete his rehabilitation.
Even then, the Covid-enforced lockdowns caused him to fall behind in his rehab and French admits he found the period mentally difficult as well, although he remains grateful for the support Wigan has shown him throughout. long.
The Warriors had been impressed enough with him to extend his contract for the 2022 season during that time as well and head coach Matt Peet, who was Adrian Lam’s assistant when French first arrived, is delighted with that. that he has seen of him since his taking charge. .
“He’s worked hard since then, so even though he didn’t play a full game on the night [against Hull FC]he’s done a full job since, Peet said. We have something to build on now with Bevan.
“He has been fantastic since his return. He is a very popular member of the team and the club, well-liked by teammates and staff, and everyone at the club. He is quite inspiring in the way he goes about his business. »
The Frenchman quickly settled back into Wigan with Peet now in charge and is impressed with the work that has been done to bring the players together and try to put the club back at the heart of the community in the town and surrounding area.
“A lot of people might not like to hear that, but I think here at this club now rugby league doesn’t come first,” French said.
“Obviously we are still working hard and wanting to win it all, but we value everyone knowing each other with a deeper connection and coming back to the Wigan community. I think the way it’s set up here is the biggest difference I’ve realized since coming back.
Highlights of the Super League match between Wigan Warriors and Hull FC
” He is [Peet] obviously our coach, but he’s also like a friend. There’s been a lot of emphasis on it, just to build relationships in the club and the city, and that makes it a really nice place to live. »
French, who is also capable of playing on the wing or in the halves if required, faces fierce competition to regain the full-back role in the squad following the emergence of Jai Field – another player whose 2021 campaign has been disrupted by injury – in the first innings of the season.
Nonetheless, he is likely to play a part in Sunday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against an improving Wakefield Trinity side and the Frenchman is eager to take another step towards the final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as the 19 winners seek to lift the trophy. for the first time since 2013.
“The last Challenge Cup game, we talked about the importance of these things,” French said. “Wigan haven’t won one for a while and it won’t be an easy challenge to get to Wakefield.
“They will definitely be up for it, especially at their home stadium, but it’s exciting – there aren’t many games left in this competition to win a trophy. The boys are thrilled, and we can’t wait. »
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Bevan French: Wigan Warriors star relishes return to action after 10 months away | Rugby League news – News 24 | News in France and abroad