Dyldam Parramatta Eels fullback Bevan French was last night awarded the Eric Grothe Senior NRL Rookie of the Year award at the 2016 Ken Thornett Medal.

“I am pretty proud and privileged to receive this award,” French said.

“I was looking at the past players that have received this award before and there are sill a few of them here, Daniel Alvaro, Manu Ma’u and Kelepi Tanginoa.” He added.

“They all turned out to be such great players and hopefully I can continue in the same way.”

Hear from Ken Thornett Medallist, Manu Ma'u

French has had an incredible rise to the NRL First Grade.

After a scintillating start in the Auckland Nines, scoring eight tries, topping the try-scoring list in the 2016 tournament, French made his NRL debut in Round 12 after a string of injuries to the Eels backline.

By the end of the 2016 season, French had 19 tries in 13 games, breaking the Parramatta Eels record for the most tries in a debut season.

“This wasn’t where I think I would be at all. I only moved down here at the end of last year, so basically it’s only been one a half years, but I knew it was going to take a bit of time and a lot of hard work, but to come as soon as it did, I was pretty surprised,” French said.

“I think most of the work and the credit goes to the blokes inside me. I just have to grab it and put it down at the end,” he added.

“I think I learnt a bit of that off Flash. Watching him play through the year, just pushing to turn up in the right spot, and he might not know it, but I learnt a lot off him just by watching him play and it will be sad to see him go.”

And the 20 year old paid special credit to his mother, who attended with him on the night, thanking her for the support as he and his brothers’ chase their dreams.

“I have been wanting to play rugby league since I was five years old. I wouldn’t be here today without her,” French said.

“She raised me and my brothers on her own, and every bit of money she worked for and earnt, it went to me and my brothers, chasing our dreams of playing footy. All credit goes to her.”

Click through to see all the award winners from the 2016 Ken Thornett Medal