French: It hurts but our confidence is still high

The younger members of the Parramatta Eels squad returned to the 2018 pre-season training last week and Bevan French says the return is exactly what you expect.

With plenty of kilometres being run in the opening few weeks, French says the players who have returned have been working hard in the opening fortnight.

“The pre-season so far is what you expect. It has been pretty tough the first week, everyone is coming off a break and a bit stiff but we have been chipping away pretty hard,” French said.

“The first week has been a few of the young boys back in, a couple of the experienced players come back next week and a few after the World Cup is done but the boys that have been here so far have been working pretty hard.”

Reflecting on the year just gone, French says there is disappointment in the air around the Blue & Gold, especially from a personal point of view, with how the 2017 season ended.

However the young footballer believes that this feeling will spur on the side to return to Finals football and go further this season.

“We are excited to get back out there. We obviously fell a bit short there at the end. We thought we would come away with a Premiership at the end there but one sloppy game against the Cowboys and they took it away from us but it hurts, and it still sort of does hurt which makes us more excited to get back into it next year.” French said.

“I don’t think we will get over it till we get past that point next year. It still hurts, a bit more for me personally since I was out injured,” French added.

“I was hoping to be back that game, which would have been my first Semi Finals game in only my second year in, I was looking forward to being there but I fell short at the end.”

“I think everyone is still disappointed but me personally, I think I feel it a bit more knowing I didn’t get the chance to run out there.”

However French has plenty of confidence in the Blue & Gold side, in particular noting it’s stability, heading into the 2018 season.

“I feel like we have the squad. We haven’t really changed much. The only real change that comes in is Kane Evans so far.” French said.

“We were top contenders last year that almost knocked Melbourne off in that first final there, so that shows how close we could of come to taking it all out.”

“We will build over the pre-season but in terms of changing squad, we have stuck the same and Kane will only add to what we have already so we are feeling pretty confident.”

French lost the number one jersey to the inform Clint Gutherson during the 2017 season, however the young footballer has been working hard in an attempt to return to fullback in 2018.

Along with the media talk of Jarryd Hayne returning to the Eels, French said he is purely focused on what he can do and will be happy in any position he can fill for the side.

“As far as we are concerned, he is up at the Gold Coast and we aren’t focused on that. We are focused on what we have here now,” French said of Hayne.

“We have a pretty tight squad and we are pretty confident with what we have now.”

“I am not too focused on where I am going to play at the moment, I am focused on getting a bit more fitness under my belt and getting a bit stronger over the pre-season,” French answered when asked about the upcoming season.

“Obviously Gutho is there, he is another contender for the fullback spot, and there has been a bit of banter over the past couple of weeks with him”

“I let him know I am ahead of him now (only because he can’t run at the moment) but I am sure when he comes back he is going to be topping the fitness like he always has been, he is strong as well and it is going to be fun going up against him to see who gets it.”

“But either way, if I don’t get it, as long as I am playing in the side, whatever position, I am happy.” French continued.