ORANGE City flanker Billy Freeman has been drafted into this year’s NSW Country under 19s squad.
Belated recognition for one of the Blowes Clothing Cup’s best up-and-coming players, the young Lion’s call-up to the youngest Cockatoos squad is as much a reward for a stellar country championship campaign with Central West as it is a glimpse into the Cockatoos’ future.
Freeman found out about of his selection in the under 19s squad on Tuesday.
“I was pretty surprised,” the former Kinross Wolaroi First XV star said.
“The original squads were announced after the country championships and I think I made the second squad, but I don’t really understand how it all works.”
NSW Country selectors named a Cockatoos colts squad, which is under 20s based, following the country championships in Mudgee back in May, and the second team Freeman refers to is the under 19s squad he’s made.
Three Central West players - Orange City’s Terry Brown, Parkes sensation Riley Byrne and Forbes gun Daryen Hazell - made the colts team.
Freeman says higher representative honours have always been a goal.
“I’d always hoped to take my rugby further,” he said, expecting the under 19s trial against the NSW Country Colts to be one of the toughest matches he’s played.
“It’ll just be a good experience to play at that higher level.
“I think it’s going to be a lot faster. My fitness isn’t where it was this time last year so I might struggle there, but we’ll see how it goes.”
In the early season absence of premiership-winning players, the 18-year-old was one of Orange City’s best on the side of the scrum, helping the Lions to second on the Blowes Clothing Cup ladder.
Now back in colts following the return of Gus Brotherton, Freeman says he’s learnt plenty from his time in the top grade.
And that learning curve won’t end while back in the juniors.
“(First grade) is a lot tougher than I thought it would be,” he said.
“I’m back playing colts now with Gus Brotherton back. He’s a great player. I watched his game pretty closely on the weekend. I’ve got plenty to learn.”
The Country Colts and under 19s will clash on May 31 as part of a development camp in Singleton.