Bevan French In Seventh Heaven After Record-Breaking Super League Try Haul

The Aussie doesn't believe his new record will stand for long
16:30, 16 Jul 2022

Bevan French was just nine when legendary former Bradford Bulls winger Lesley Vainikolo claimed a record-breaking six-try haul against Hull FC at Odsal in September 2005.

Nearly 17 years on and French rewrote the history books on Friday night with a staggering seven tries in Wigan Warriors’ 60-0 win over the same side. It said much for the Australian’s amazing talent and saw him dislodge Vainikolo as the player with the greatest individual try-scoring performance in Betfred Super League history.

Vainikolo, who became affectionately nicknamed ‘The Volcano’, was a cult hero during his time at Bradford in their all-conquering pomp. The Tongan, who scored 149 tries in 152 appearances for the Bulls, was chiselled to a slightly different stone to the more slightly-built French. At 6ft 2in and over 17 stone, Vainikolo is a giant of a man, albeit a fairly laconic one. French stands 5ft 9in and weighs less than 14 stone.

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“I know Les was a completely different player to me!” said French with a huge smile after his incredible feat. “I didn’t watch much of his games but I know the name and, to be honest, I used to use him as a player on PlayStation Rugby League!

“Have you seen the size of him? Just to be amongst these kinds of players and to even be in the conversation is amazing. Will my record be broken? To be honest, I don’t think it will last as long as Lesley’s did.

“With the way the game has changed with some of the athletes, it’s become quicker and there are a lot more points getting scored when teams get a roll on with how quick the ruck has become. Some athletes in Super League now can really score out of nothing, so, as much as I’d like it to last longer, I don’t think it will.”

The Aussie’s feats will not have gone unnoticed in his homeland, with French keen to move back down under when his contract expires at the end of this season. The 26-year-old winger joined Wigan three years ago after being frozen out by Parramatta Eels but a lucrative NRL return now feels almost inevitable.“Hopefully it will be decided in the very near future,” said French, speaking to the media alongside head coach Matty Peet after Wigan’s 11-try hammering of the Black and Whites. “There are only eight or nine games left and I want to try and sort that out as soon as I can. I’ve taken a back step with that and let my manager take control of the reins really. I’m sure he will do what’s best for me and we’ll go from there.”

Wigan supporters chanted ‘Bevan French, we want you to stay’ and he added: “That’s amazing, not just tonight but during my time here. The fans are so passionate and it’s the best crowd you can play in front of. It’s a crazy atmosphere and something I’d never experienced. I know you get crowds in the NRL, but you get a lot of passion here and to hear them tonight is something I’ll remember for a long time.”

French might well have hit double figures had he played the full 80 minutes. He was replaced to a standing ovation shortly before the hour mark, with his family members in the stands.

The Aussie star lost his mother in January after an illness and helped to care for her in her final days. That saw him miss pre-season at Wigan and raised doubts about whether he would return. He has since made himself at home in north-west England again and added: “It’s still sinking in to get the Super League record and I spoke to a few of the boys about it after the game. To do it at the DW Stadium and have some family here to see it is something I will cherish forever.

FRENCH TAKES THE APPLAUSE OF THE DW STADIUM CROWD AFTER HIS SEVEN TRIES
FRENCH TAKES THE APPLAUSE OF THE DW STADIUM CROWD AFTER HIS SEVEN TRIES

“My stepdad and my uncle were here – they were at Magic Weekend last week too – and to get the opportunity to come to a country they have never been too before, the whole experience has been amazing for them. They have loved every minute of it, not just tonight but the whole experience in general.

“But most importantly it was the team performance and Matty touched on the lessons we wanted to learn from last week against Saints at Magic. We definitely did that and I’d say it’s the best 80-minute performance we’ve had and something we’ve been striving for.

“It sounds clichéd saying as a winger you’ve just got to finish the work from the inside, but that’s literally what it was. If we didn’t learn those lessons from last week, I wouldn’t be in the position to do it. Of course a lot of confidence goes into it, but we’re so tight as a group and across the park if someone goes down and another player comes in you know they’re going to do the job.

“You feel pretty confident no matter who you run out on the field with, which is credit to the coaching staff. It’s something they’ve been striving for and we’re now seeing the rewards.

“Can we go on and challenge for the Super League title? Absolutely.”

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