Norfolk 18-year-old Freddie Steward makes first home senior appearance for Leicester Tigers
PUBLISHED: 05:49 04 October 2019
Norfolk youngster Freddie Steward is still buzzing after making his first home appearance in senior rugby for Leicester Tigers.
The 18-year-old full-back replaced fellow academy graduate Jordan Olowofela in the second half of the Tigers' bonus-point 27-7 win over Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership Cup.
"Running out at Welford Road was awesome," said the former Norwich School pupil. "It's something I have been thinking about for a while now, and something I've always wanted to do.
"At the start, when we were in the tunnel and the fans in the Crumbie (Stand) were stomping - it was an unbelievable feeling.
"Walking out onto the pitch I got goosebumps. It was incredible."
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For Norwich-born Steward coming out on top against a young Chiefs side completed an evening to remember - but he also knows it's just one milestone in a tough first year of senior rugby.
"To get the win as well is really nice, so I am really pleased," he told the Tigers' official website. "The first few weeks of pre-season were really tough and it was a big step up to make - but I knew that.
"Now we are into week 14 and I am getting some game time, I'm really enjoying it. I'm really enjoying the intensity and I will keep working hard on the training field and see what happens."
Steward is now based at Loughborough University, having just started his first year studying for a degree in economics after leaving school in July.
He joined Tigers while still at Norwich School and was a regular at full-back as the academy team won successive National Under-18 League titles in 2017/18 and 2018/19 without losing a game as well as gaining England Under-18 recogntion.
He made his first team debut in January in Leicester's Premiership Cup tie at Northampton and made his first Premiership appearance as a replacement at Sale two months later. He was drafted on to the bench just 15 minutes before kick-off when fellow academy graduate George Worth pulled out with injury and came on for the final few minutes of a 32-5 defeat.