French eyes Indigenous Round return
Parramatta Eels fullback Bevan French is itching to make his return from injury in this weekend's Indigenous Round clash against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
A routine training run went pear shape early last month when French injured his posterior cruciate ligament that has forced the 21-year-old to watch from the stands the last four games.
The injury was expected to rule French out for at least another fortnight however the Tingha junior is on track for an early return.
City Origin representative Clint Gutherson has slotted into the No.1 jersey in recent weeks but is expected to move back into the five-eighth role should French be a late inclusion.
With speculation building that Mitchell Moses could make a mid-season move to Parramatta from the Wests Tigers, the Eels backline could go from depleted to a positive selection headache in the space of a fortnight.
"I'll see how I go during the week at training, hopefully I can get through the sessions and play on Sunday," French told NRL.com.
"The knee has been coming along well so I cant wait to get out there in the Indigenous jersey if I am playing, it means a lot to me, my family and community back home."
Indigenous Round is a special occasion for the Tingha-born fullback after growing up in the same town as former Panthers and Sharks five-eighth Preston Campbell, as well as uncle and former St George Illawarra winger Nathan Blacklock.
"I started playing rugby league because of Preston Campbell," French said.
"He inspired me particularly being a little guy, along with Nathan Blacklock. They're both very big reasons why I played rugby league and have come as far as I have.
"I grew up on the side of town where most of the Indigenous kids live and we just lived and breathed footy all the time. On our side of town is where everyone played. Other kids would travel across to join in with us.
"Indigenous kids back home just love the game, they play every weekend and you'll see them in the main street with a footy in their hand. It's great that this round acknowledges them and all people in the Indigenous community."
For the first time in NRL history, all Telstra Premiership teams will wear Indigenous-designed jerseys to celebrate the occasion with Parramatta unveiling their second design in as many years at the launch on Monday.
Queensland winger Dane Gagai helped with Newcastle's design and French said he would love to follow his Indigenous All Stars teammate down the same path if the opportunity was given.
"Our jersey has been designed by Daren Dunn and he did our jersey for last year too. He's a fantastic artist and proud Indigenous man that does a lot of the player's boots in the NRL and other jersey designs which are awesome too," French said.
"I can't see myself getting that gig anytime soon with him in front of me but it would be good to one day.
"I've been getting a few messages from everyone back home to grab a few of the jerseys for them and it would be good to get one but I think it would be even better to put one on and run out there so hopefully that is the case on Sunday."