French sets Auckland Nines tournament alight
The New South Wales country town of Tingha has a new rugby league star in Bevan French.
The 20-year-old nephew of former St George flyer Nathan Blacklock set the Auckland Nines alight with a record eight tries in the weekend tournament.
The "Tingha Tornado" upstaged popular teammate Semi Radradra and New Zealand Warriors wizard Shaun Johnson, who limped off in the final with a corked thigh, for the tag of leading try scorer of the Nines.
French's blistering speed also raised the question - is Broncos recruit James Roberts actually the fastest man in rugby league?
Radradra and Johnson lived up to expectations scoring some spectacular tries, but it was French's speed, anticipation, footwork and hands for someone yet to play an NRL game which had tongues wagging.
Uncle Nathan holds the NRL record of 25 tries in a regular season.
But observers believe French is quicker than Blacklock, who scored 100 tries in five seasons for St George Illawarra.
"I've got the easy job; I'm on the outside of the guys who do all the work," said French after Parramatta charged into the final with a 17-8 win over Melbourne.
The Nines unearthed some great talent. Titans prop Ignatius Passi, who had a modest season in his 18 games last NRL season, was outstanding, his all-round game displaying glimpses of Sam Thaiday and Dave Taylor.
His Gold Coast teammate Chris McQueen was impressive , while others who caught the eye were Gideon Gela-Mosby (Cowboys), Curtis Scott (Melbourne), Tui Lolohea (Warriors) and Jack Bird (Cronulla).