No surrender for French
He might have started his NRL career with a bang, but Parramatta's rookie sensation Bevan French is taking nothing for granted.
Injuries, homesickness and growing competition for backline spots delayed his rise to the ranks of first grade, but despite the roadblocks, French never gave up on his dream to play in the NRL.
It might be early days, but it seems as if his perseverance has paid off.
The Eels winger is three games into life as a first-grade footballer and already has four tries next to his name; only teammates Semi Radradra and Michael Jennings have scored more tries for the blue and golds in 2016.
In fact, French is yet to go 80 minutes without crossing the stripe after nabbing four-pointers against the Knights and Titans before crossing for a double last Friday night against the Rabbitohs.
It caps off a freakish 18 months for the 20-year-old – who is still eligible for the Holden Cup – having scored 22 tries in 26 matches in the NYC over the past two years and then earning a spot in Parramatta's squad for the Auckland Nines.
French had a breakout tournament in New Zealand, scoring a record eight tries over the weekend, and looked set to fight his way into the NRL starting side for Round 1 against the Broncos until injuries cut him down.
"I missed the first few weeks due to a broken hand and then second game back I dislocated my elbow [in the Holden Cup] so I was out for another month," the Eels winger said after Friday night's 30-12 win over South Sydney.
"It was a bit tough mentally. All you want to do is go out there and play footy."
Despite the setbacks, French said Eels coach Brad Arthur refused to go easy on him during a gruelling pre-season campaign.
"Even though I was injured, Brad was still tough on me, making sure he was drilling me [with my fitness]," he said.
"It was my first pre-season and I sort of came back a bit under the bar. Brad pushed me; he's very tough on me but that's what I love about him. He's very tough and he gets the best out of you."
Given his freakish ability to score tries in the NYC and NRL, you could be excused for thinking French was the cream of the crop back home in Tingha as a child – an idea he modestly refutes.
From humble beginnings he made the move to Sydney following in the footsteps of his famous uncles Nathan Blacklock and Preston Campbell; his ability to score a direct homage to their past exploits.
Coming to the 'big smoke' as a teenager wasn't an easy task for French, but it's a move he has since clearly embraced.
"Everyone out there (Tingha) loves their footy and everyone was very competitive. I didn't really standout too much," he said.
"At first it was pretty tough, you get homesick and you miss your family a lot and your mates. I've been here for a few years now so you start to get used to it.
"There's a little Parra house in North Parramatta. The recruitment officer ran the house and there were a few other people that just moved from other towns so we were all going through the same thing."
While French has had no problems emulating his uncles' ability to touch down, don't expect him to start doing backflips any time soon.
"I'll leave that to Nathan. I haven't got that in me," he laughed.
"They're both very supportive of me and whenever I have any questions for them, I'll just ask them and they're very helpful."