Man of Steel contenders: Bevan French
Bevan French has lit up the Betfred Super League since arriving on the scene mid-way through the 2019 season. French has had a year to remember in his first full season at the Warriors, rewarded with his inclusion in the top five 2020 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel contenders.
The Warriors fullback has become a human highlight reel with his mesmerising runs and spectacular tries, being centre stage for some of Super League’s most memorable moments during the 2020 campaign.
At just 24 years-old, Bevan French is arguably yet to reach his prime. Yet a string of standout performances over the season and the damage he has caused on numerous occasions with ball in hand, he may well be considered one of the most dangerous runners we’ve seen during the Super League era.
And the stats back it up. French is top of the league for tackle busts and clean breaks in the regular season, and sits second for tries scored in what has been a huge year individually.
French has the chance to join an elite group of Warriors to be been crowned Man of Steel. From Super League's first Man of Steel winner Andy Farrell in 1996, to star winger Pat Richards, and Warriors most recent winner Sam Tomkins, French would be in esteemed company.
The former Warriors fullback Tomkins was crowned Man of Steel in 2012 - the last time Warriors won the League Leaders’ Shield. Coincidence or fate?
Adrian Lam’s decision to start the season with French at fullback over former Man of Steel winner Zak Hardaker certainly caused debate. But those debates were quickly put to bed following a string of emphatic performances from Warriors first choice fullback.
French quickly settled into his new role, scoring a trademark try against Warrington Wolves in round one. A broken piece of play quickly turning into opportunity for French, scoring a try which would ultimately help Warriors win their season opener and earn French a man of the match trophy.
Fellow Man of Steel contender and teammate Liam Farrell has played with plenty of superstars during his time at Warriors, but French stands out as a player that can do things that many before him have been unable to do.
He said: “When you get him one on one, he’s a freak. You can’t get anywhere near him.
“For me, there’s never been anyone in Super League like him. He’s one of a kind and his speed off the mark is unbelievable.”
Discussing French’s individual performances this year, Farrell wasn't surprised to see what the fullback has produced during the 2020 season.
“A couple of weeks ago when we played Salford, people were absolutely raving about what he did for one of the tries,” he explained.
“That kind of stuff he does on a weekly basis in training.”
The game in reference was Warriors round 17 win against Red Devils in October. French produced a master class which rightly had people talking. A hat-trick of tries, two assists, 10 tackle busts, five clean breaks, and 270 metres from 19 carries left fans and players in complete awe.
French on fire as Warriors thrash Red Devils 🔥
Highlights delivered by @PapaJohnsUK 🍕#SuperLeague #SLWigSal pic.twitter.com/seQ41Ymzi6
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) October 24, 2020
And it isn’t just French’s teammates who have been complimentary of his impressive displays this year. Discussing the other contenders for this years’ Man of Steel award, Castleford Tigers' influential hooker Paul McShane was full of praise for Warriors star fullback.
He said: “He’s x-factor isn’t he. No matter how much you talk it up or get numbers on him, his speed kills.
“He’s an outstanding talent.”
Those individual efforts and consistent performances have brought plenty of admiration for the flying fullback. Applause from teammates, opposition and Man of Steel panellists could see Bevan French crowned the 2020 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel live on Sky Sports on Monday Night.