Norfolk youngster Freddie Steward makes first team debut for Leicester Tigers
- Credit: Archant
Norwich School pupil Freddie Steward took a break from his A level studies to make his first team debut for Leicester Tigers at the weekend.
The 18-year-old full back came on as a late replacement in the Tigers' Premiership Cup tie at Northampton Saints after impressing during his final year of Academy rugby.
His big moment was witnessed by a bumper crowd of nearly 14,000, with parents Ben and Jane and one of his brothers Harry among those in attendance.
The teenager saw about five minutes of action in a losing cause, with Saints going on to win the game 47-20, but it was still an afternoon to remember for the young hopeful and his family, who hail from Longham.
'I think Freddie is still pinching himself that he actually got on the field to play for the Tigers' first team,' said his father Ben.
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'It is a big ambition that he has fulfilled at the age of 18 and we are all very proud of him.
'Freddie didn't have too long to impress and I can't remember him actually touching the ball but it was a still a big moment for him. It wasn't just the fact that he played - it was about being around the first team in the lead-up to the match and mixing with all the top players.
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'It is a great experience for Freddie and will hopefully stand him in good stead going forward. It's an important year for him with his A levels coming up and he's grateful to Norwich School for being so supportive and for allowing him to join up with the Tigers the week before the game.'
Steward, who played as a youngster at first Swaffham and then Holt, has risen through the Tigers' Academy, having started in the Developing Player Programme at the age of 13.
Before making his debut he featured for the Tigers' A team in the Premiership Shield game against Newcastle on New Year's Eve at Loughborough University, which the visitors won 34-22.
There is also an Academy League fixture to look forward to at Worcester Warriors this weekend.
Steward is following a well trodden path from Norfolk to the Leicester Tigers' first team, led by England internationals Ben and Tom Youngs and continued by the likes of the now retired George Catchpole, Will Evans, George Worth and Harry Simmons.