Jennings backs French's fullback shift
Star Parramatta centre Michael Jennings believes exhilarating 20-year-old Bevan French has the attributes required to make the fullback position his own in 2017 following another cameo appearance at the back on Friday night.
French scored the 12th try of his 10-game NRL career to date inside five minutes against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium but as he did against Manly last week also spent time switching with 200-gamer Michael Gordon between wing and fullback.
His pure speed will make him a dangerous proposition on sweeping shifts to the left or right and while a couple of passes went astray Eels coach Brad Arthur will continue to give him experience at the back in the final three weeks of the Telstra Premiership season.
An unabashed fan of his blistering pace, Jennings said that with the imminent departure of Gordon to the Roosters that the Eels will be well served by giving the youngster as much experience at fullback as possible.
"I think that's what we're working towards when Micky Gordon leaves, giving young 'Bevvy' a bit of time there at the back," Jennings told NRL.com.
"Get a bit of experience there and he'll slot in there next year and hopefully all goes well.
"He's a talented young fella and off the field he works pretty hard on his game. He's just got that natural ability to play footy and he's a good kid.
"He's just quick. He's super quick. He's just a natural athlete."
While Gordon was entrusted with the organisation of an Eels defence that conceded the most number of points in any of their games this season, French was given plenty of time at fullback when the Eels were in possession.
One of the few bright spots in a horror year for the club, Arthur said that with finals football out of the equation they can fast-track his development as a fullback with first-hand experience against quality opposition.
"It's an opportunity now and a good time to give him some football there and let him learn his trade there," Arthur said.
"We can drip it into him in bits and pieces and that will give him time in the pre-season to work on himself physically, get a bit bigger and stronger, and be able to handle the demands week-in, week-out.
"We've got the luxury at the moment that we can put him there for 15-20 minutes and then put him back to the wing just to look after him."