22 Jan 2021

Five full-backs to watch in 2021

We pick out five full-backs we cannot wait to watch in 2021.

Bevan French (Wigan Warriors)

Bevan French was superb in 2020. The Wigan Warriors star scored on the opening night of the season against Warrington Wolves and never looked back. In all, French scored 13 tries and caused opposition defenders all sorts of problems. Whenever he had the ball in his hands, you felt something amazing could happen. There were some concerns that he might return to Australia for the 2021 season, but French will be back and hoping he can have another stellar season with the Cherry & Whites. 

Niall Evalds (Castleford Tigers)

It’s a huge year for Niall Evalds as he makes the move to Castleford Tigers. The 27-year-old left Salford Red Devils as their all-time leading try-scorer in Betfred Super League and will be confident of making a similar impact at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. Injuries hampered his final season with Red Devils, but Evalds still finished 2020 with nine tries. His explosive pace and brilliant footwork should add an exciting dimension to Daryl Powell’s backline. He’ll face stiff competition for the full-back shirt from Gareth O’Brien, who impressed after joining Tigers in 2020.

Jack Walker (Leeds Rhinos)

Not many Super League players had a more difficult 2020 than Jack Walker. The 21-year-old endured a torrid year of injuries, which ruled him out for the majority of Leeds Rhinos' season. In his absence, Richie Myler made the full-back role his own. Walker did return towards the back end of the campaign, but it was Myler who got the nod in the Challenge Cup Final, winning the Lance Todd Trophy as Rhinos overcame Red Devils. Walker recently admitted missing out on the showpiece game was tough to take. However, 2021 represents a fresh opportunity for him and the chance to move on from a year he'd rather forget. 

Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves)

Matty Ashton first came to our attention at the beginning of last season in Wolves’ matches against Warriors and St Helens. It was impossible not to be in awe of his infectious enthusiasm on the rugby field. Ashton’s speed is quite incredible – his last-minute breakaway try against Tigers was the perfect example of that pace. He’ll be in a battle with the excellent Stefan Ratchford for the full-back jersey throughout 2021, but we saw in 2020 that Ashton can also operate on the wing and Ratchford may well be required elsewhere in Wolves’ side. So, there will be plenty of opportunities for Ashton to build on his fantastic maiden Super League season. 

Lachlan Coote (St Helens)

I couldn't write a list of Super League full-backs and not include Lachlan Coote. The Australian is a joy to watch. You could make the argument that there is no classier player in Super League. Coote's importance to Saints cannot be disputed. He supports the half-backs superbly in attack and his defensive work is second to none. Even if Coote doesn't quite possess the pace of some of his counterparts, as an all-round package, he is the best full-back in Super League.