French: More than just a game

Parramatta Eels and Indigenous All Stars fullback Bevan French is preparing to take the field this Friday night in the upcoming NRL Harvey Norman All Stars clash at AAMI Park.

Called into the side in place of Ben Barba, French said it was a strange and funny whirlwind period where he was informed of his selection into Laurie Daley’s 20 man squad for the clash.

“It was quite funny because I got a call from our footy manager to say I didn’t make it, but then ten minutes later he called me back to let me know I was in,” French recalled.

“It was good to get the call up, not obviously the way I wanted to make it in, but it now gives me the opportunity to go out there and see where I am at, what I need to work on ahead of the season and an opportunity to go out there to represent our culture which I cant wait to do.”

Recalling on his previous experience in the Indigenous All Stars clash back in 2017, French was excited about returning to camp and re-visiting the culture and community experiences in the lead up to the game.

“It’s exciting to represent our culture. A lot of people think it’s all about the game on Friday night, but that is just the height of the week at the end.” French said.

“It will be good to go out there, represent our culture, our people and our families back home.”

“But it’s the week away in the lead up to the game that is pretty special, as we get to go out to the communities.” French continued.

“We did that the last time I was selected, and it was great to get out there, into schools and the community and speak about the issues within our culture.”

“Hopefully if it is a similar week to the previous all Stars clash, it is not just about the game at the end of the week, its what is going on during the week as well.”

French is not the only Blue & Gold representative that will be in action during the All Stars clash, with Blake Ferguson also named in the Indigenous All Stars side whilst Brad Takairangi has been named in the New Zealand Maori All Stars side.

French is looking forward to taking confidence out of the clash to lead into the year ahead.

“I will take a bit of confidence out of the game leading into the season. You get to play with players you haven’t played with before and get to make new friendships, and being able to get out and represent your family back home, it makes them quite proud,” French said.

“I am most excited to link up with Fergo. After last year, him having such a good year and then him coming to the Eels, over the last few weeks I have been able to learn a bit about him and he is a real character so it will be good to see what he is like on the field and I am sure he can help my game and we can try and build a bit of a connection there.”

“It will be a bit of fun to come up against Takz,” French added.

“The last one I came up against Tepai and there is always a bit of banter on the field so I am sure it will be no different this time around, with Takz giving it to us, and us back at him.”

“There was already been a bit of banter thrown around at training last week so it will be exciting, good fun and pretty physical as well so I’m looking forward to it.”