Norfolk’s Freddie Steward makes Premiership debut for Leicester Tigers
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk youngster Freddie Steward has made a surprise first appearance for Leicester Tigers in the Gallagher Premiership – at the age of just 18.
While fellow members of the squad listened to music, read or played cards aboard the team bus to Sale, Steward, who thought he was travelling to make up the numbers, still had homework on his mind.
'It was not what was I expecting at all, but it was just an awesome opportunity – I'm still buzzing,' said the Norwich School pupil after an unexpected run-out from the bench in a 32-5 defeat.
After being added to the squad as a travelling reserve at the AJ Bell Stadium, Steward was allowed to make the journey after promising teachers he would get his schoolwork done in time for Monday's classes.
'School only let me off for the day if I promised to get my work done, so me and Jonny (Law) did it at the hotel before coming to the stadium,' Steward told LeicesterTigers.com.
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'I just thought I'd watch the boys and then get on the bus home.'
But, less than 10 minutes before kick-off, Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy sent Steward's heart racing when he told him he was being added to the bench after George Worth had hobbled off with a knee injury and was ruled out.
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His big moment arrived when he came on with four minutes remaining as a replacement for fellow Academy graduate Jordan Olowofela on the wing. He didn't look out of place either and made his only touch count by preventing a Sharks try with an impressive clean-up at the back.
'You could just tell, even from the sidelines, it was another level up from what I've experienced before,' he said.
Unfortunately, Norwich-born Steward didn't have family present to share the moment with after playing it cool and advising his mother not to make the trip.
'Actually, I told my mum not to travel down because I definitely won't get on,' said Steward.
'They would have wanted to be here for it but I'm sure they'll be really happy that I just got the chance.'
Steward has spent the past two seasons starring in the fullback position for the Tigers Academy and played a major role in back-to-back U18 League title wins.