Ranking Bevan French and Super League’s 7 other greatest full-back/half-back hybrids

Ben Olawumi
Iestyn Harris, Bevan French, Sam Tomkins

From left to right: Iestyn Harris, Bevan French & Sam Tomkins all starred at full-back & in the halves during their respective Super League careers

Bevan French is probably the best half-back and the best full-back we’ve got in Super League at the minute, absolutely scintillating to watch in both of those positions over the last few weeks.

But where does he rank among the best to star in both of those positions in Super League history?

Below, we’ve picked out eight that fall into that category and pitted them against one another to determine exactly where French ranks.

There’s two other current Super League aces in there as well…

8. Stefan Ratchford

Stefan Ratchford
Stefan Ratchford applauds the Warrington Wolves fans after a game in 2024

With his 36th birthday coming up later this month, Warrington Wolves skipper Ratchford – an eight-time England international – is now the ultimate utility man, able to slot in virtually anywhere Sam Burgess asks him to.

Having featured 338 times for Wire, the fourth-most of anyone in the summer era, it’s easy to forget he’d already made 108 appearances for Salford – then City Reds – by the time he joined Warrington in 2012.

7. Luke Dorn

The first overseas ace in this ranking, Australian Dorn made over 250 Super League appearances during his career. Before he came into the British game, the New South Wales native had featured 38 times in the NRL – and he went on to star for London Broncos, Salford & Castleford, scoring 170 tries in Super League alone.

Dorn is now 41, and retired back in 2018 after a couple of seasons back with hometown club Maitland Pickers. Very few overseas aces spend over a decade over here, and we thin he definitely deserves his spot in this ranking having shone at full-back & in the halves.

6. Jonny Lomax

Jonny Lomax St Helens Alamy
Jonny Lomax in action for St Helens in 2024

St Helens skipper Lomax is now an established half-back, and one of the best in Super League at that. But when he was first breaking through into the senior setup, full-back was where he slotted in. He’s always had quality players around him, but you don’t keep a starting shirt in a Saints side for this long without being at the top of your own game.

As well as his 340 senior games in the Red V to date, the sixth most of anyone for the club in the Super League era, the Billinge-born playmaker has 15 international appearances on his CV – 11 for England & four for Great Britain. The 33-year-old’s tally of major honours won is in double figures, and involves four consecutive Super League titles between 2019 & 2022.

5. Leon Pryce

We’d put Pryce, 42, above Lomax on the basis he won major honours with three of the four clubs he donned a shirt for, scoring over 200 tries and making over 500 career appearances including 25 on the international front and four for Yorkshire at representative level.

By the time the Bradford-born utility back retired in 2017 following a short stint back with his hometown club, he had 19 major honours on his CV – including four Super League titles. Over 400 of his appearances came in Super League, and to be one of the best in the top tier for that long takes some doing.

4. Iestyn Harris

Iestyn Harris, Leroy Rivett
Leeds Rhinos captain Iestyn Harris (right) & man of the match Leroy Rivett (left) hold aloft the Challenge Cup following their 1999 triumph in the competition’s final against London Broncos

Harris commanded a £350,000 transfer fee from Leeds when the Rhinos bought him from Warrington in 1997, and four years later, was worth £1.5 million in the eyes of rugby union outfit Cardiff – captured to bolster the Wales side on the international front. When anyone’s paying that much for you, you know you’re quite the player.

The 48-year-old – born in Oldham – did eventually return to league, and still made over 250 top flight appearances by the time he hung up his boots, with winners’ medals from both a Grand Final and a Challenge Cup final – scoring 20 points in Leeds’ 1999 triumph in the latter.

3. Henry Paul

Kiwi native Paul was another dual-code star, and left – arguably – a bigger dent in both rugby league and rugby union. On the international front, he appeared in two rugby league World Cups for New Zealand and – through his Liverpudlian grandfather – featured for England in rugby union’s Six Nations on multiple occasions.

Despite spending a long time in union, the 50-year-old still managed over 250 appearances in British rugby league games, including over 200 in Super League alone – winning three Grand Finals. One of the best.

2. Bevan French

Bevan French
Wigan Warriors star Bevan French in action in 2024

Here he is, the man that’s inspired this ranking. French doesn’t have any union experience on his CV, at least not yet, but what he does have is the tag of being one of Super League’s finest-ever overseas acquisitions. Tags like that are normally reserved until a player retires, or at least departs, but we can categorically say he deserves that recognition already.

French only made the switch into the halves midway through last season, and still won the Man of Steel. He’s only carried on getting better so far this season, and is so often the man of the moment for the Warriors. Just over 100 appearances in the British game, and he’s won everything there is to win. Retaining him will be some of the best business Wigan do for years to come.

1. Sam Tomkins

Only four men have ever been crowned Man of Steel more than once. Two-time winner Tomkins is one of those, and he’s – in our opinion – the best to ever do it at both full-back & in the halves in Super League history. He was still bossing it last year for Catalans playing through the pain barrier at the age of 34, and that says it all, really.

The statistics of 222 tries in 352 career appearances in the British game are just the tip of the iceberg, with the Milton Keynes-born ace responsible for so many moments of magic – featuring 29 times for England on the international front and spending time in both the NRL and rugby union. Ridiculously good.