Wigan fans deliver verdict on potential line-up change ahead of derby clash with Leigh

Josh McAllister
Bevan French, SWPix

Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com

Wigan fans have delivered their verdict on where they want to see star man Bevan French play in Thursday night’s Super League derby against Leigh. 

Last week saw head coach Matt Peet bench half-back Cade Cust in the early stages of the second half in a move that appeared to be the catalyst in their comeback.

The change saw Jai Field move into the halves, with winger Bevan French switch to full-back. It also saw Kai Pearce-Paul shift to centres, with Toby King pushed to the wing.

Wigan went on to claim a 20-16 home victory over Paul Rowley’s Salford, with second half tries from French and King.

Discussing the move that saw Cust axed, Peet told Love Rugby League after the game: “Cade Cust is alright. He’s team first. 

“He’s probably pleased we got the win. 

“He knows there’s things he needs to do better, but he’s team first. 

“Whatever happens on the night, to get that result, we’ve all got to put our ego to one side sometimes and do what’s best for the team

“We’ve got no qualms about making those decisions when they have to be made and players here have to respond in the right way and that’s by working hard to make sure that next time you’re on the field, you nail your role. 

“Cade will have games where he kills it, as he has done in the past. But for whatever reason, we weren’t fluent with the ball and it was plain to see we needed certain people on the ball more.”

Wigan supporters want Bevan French at full-back

And fans want to see the same change made for their Thursday night Super League clash against neighbours Leigh.

French, 27, has started every game this season on the wing, with Cust partnering talented youngster Harry smith in the halves.

But Peet opted to switch his positional line-up on the 47th minute last Friday, allowing Australian-born outside-back French more time with the ball.

French has been one of the stand-out performers in Super League since his arrival in 2019, making the mid-season switch from the Parramatta Eels.

He was a Man of Steel nominee the following season after his first full year in England, with Castleford’s Paul McShane going on to claim the title.

Upon the arrival of ex-Manly Sea Eagles playmaker Cust in 2022, French was moved to the wing in a year that saw him cross for 31 tries – the most in the competition.

But supporters want their star man to return to full-back, with Abbas Miski backed to take the vacant spot on the wing, and Field slotting into the halves.

“Miski 100% deserves a shot,” one fan wrote, while others named their line-up that included French at the back.

Joe Shorrocks has also returned to his parent club following his loan move to the Leopards. The 23-year-old utility forward featured in wins over Hull KR and St Helens, and could earn a spot in Peet’s final 17 on Thursday evening. 

Verdict: Where best for French?

Jai Field is one of Super League’s best performing full-backs, and the 25-year-old has started in every game so far this season.

But French’s best position is arguably also at number #1.

Harry Smith is Wigan’s number seven, and there’s not going to be a change there, while Cust has previously featured at hooker for the Warriors.

It’s a hard call, but there’s no doubt that French performs best with his hands on the ball – and that’s limited at times on the wing.

A headache that no doubt head coach Peet enjoys, but one I certainly wouldn’t want to have.

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