Don’t let the cheeky grin fool you, Krys Freeman isn’t here to muck around.
The 25-year-old rake has signed with the Townsville and Districts Mendi Blackhawks for 2018 and intends to make a name for himself, after a successful season at the CQ Capras in 2017.
Son of New Zealand great Gary, Freeman said his ultimate goal to push his case in the NRL, factored into his decision to come to Townsville.
“I was happy with how I performed at the Capras over the last year; but moving to the Blackhawks here and situating yourself as close as possible to an NRL team, (in) an NRL town – that was a huge factor in the decision,” Freeman said.
“I’m just here to show what I can do and help the Blackhawks win in 2018.”
Freeman said the success of the Blackhawks also played a big part in getting him to Townsville, as well as the calibre of players at the club.
Dubbed ‘Mr Consistent’ for the Capras in 2017, Freeman will look to replace inaugural Blackhawks player Anthony Mitchell in the number 9 jersey.
Blackhawks General Manager Adrian Thomson said Freeman was a great signing for the club in the wake of Mitchell’s retirement.
“We’re not in the market of taking players from the regional clubs, but to fill a hole that’s been left with Ant Mitchell retiring, we thought it was very important to get a guy of Krys’s calibre,” Thomson said.
“He’s not only a good league player, he’s a good bloke, and he’s a good tough bloke.
“He’s a competitor, he’s everything that we think our club is about and I think he’s one of our major signings.”
Freeman said while there was no replacing Mitchell, he was eager to put his best foot forward on the field.
“Ant’s obviously very successful here and on the NRL stage as well, so big shoes to fill, but I’ll come in and do what I can do.”
Freeman himself is no stranger to the NRL system, having spent time with both the Penrith Panthers and the Newcastle Knights, as well as playing more than 40 National Youth Competition games with the Parramatta Eels and the Melbourne Storm.
“Any years I’ve had in the NRL I’ve just been injured really,” Freeman said.
“I broke my arm at the Knights and I broke my leg and I broke my hand at the Panthers, so never really had that time in the system to show what I can do.
“Coming here just gives me the best opportunity to show, in a great club, in a great town, what I can add to the Blackhawks.”
Freeman will bring valuable leadership to a reasonably young Blackhawks side, and said he wouldn’t take a backwards step when he gets on the park next year.
“Being as competitive as possible and doing every little thing that I can do to help the team and to win, that’s the ultimate goal of being in this competition,” Freeman said.
Thomson said that part of the allure of getting Freeman to Townsville was to fill one of the leadership roles left by the likes of Mitchell and Michael Parker-Walshe in 2017.
“We lost a good number of quality players and also quality leaders in our club,” Thomson said.
“We know that he’s got those capabilities, that’s why we’ve pursued him pretty hard to get him here.”