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From Australia to France to the USA and back again

21 Apr 20, 7:55PM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

USA International five-eighth Kristian Freed has had a long running Rugby League career that has seen him play around the world.

Growing up in Brisbane, a young Kristian Freed would play his junior rugby league for Wests Michelton before moving on to the Colts and eventually the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles (now known as the Falcons).

“At the time I was playing at Colts for Wests (under Craig Ingebrigtsen) when we were still based out of Purtell Park but played our home games out of Arana Hills.

“My mate Paul Stanley was playing cup at Souths Logan and he was telling me about how Brandon Costin (Costo), was going up to Sunny Coast the following year to coach their Fogs Cup side with the following year to have a Cup side.

“So I had a meeting with Costo and decided it would be great to be apart of that from the start” he tells Everything Rugby League

The 32-year-old then made the decision to move to France on the other side of the world to play for Lescure, a time that he remembers fondly.

“After 4 years at Sunny Coast playing a mix of FOGS and Cup, I got dropped back to FOGS after a shit performance against Easts by a coach that had no right coaching an open 3s side (great guy just a very bad coach). I thought stuff this, I might as well try use my Cup experience to play overseas and Kimmy Ingebrigtsen sent a video over to a team in south of France, Lescure.

“They were looking for a halfback import and they picked me up for 2 years. We were the cellar dwellers but it was an awesome experience and was great to play rugby league in that area of the world.” he says

With Rugby League having been playing in the South of France for nearly a century, the people are avid rugby league fans which is something that didn’t go unnoticed during his time there.

“The south of France love their rugby league. Its cool to see that area so interested as union is a much bigger game in the entirety of France.”

It was around this period he came in to contact with now great mate Mark “Captain America” Offerdahl, captain of he USA Rugby League side.

“One of the boys over there was Mark Offerdahl. He was playing for Carcassonne and the year before had been playing against me in Cup for the East Tigers.

“He knew that I was also in the USA player pool and during the 2012 season in Elite One, we thought we would go from there to Connecticut to play AMNRL going into the World cup 2013.”

During this time he received some devastating news from back home making the decision to move to the United States a very difficult one to make.

“The move to Connecticut was a hard one because while I was in France my dad told me he had prostate cancer.

“But he wanted me to do whatever it takes to play for the USA in their first World Cup and if I came home without doing everything I could, he would never wanted it to be that way because he was sick.

“So I discussed it with him as he and my mum are based and Brissy and he said he wanted me to do it to make sure I cemented my spot. So me and Offerdahl went over to play for the Connecticut Wildcats which was another great experience. We got put up with one of our team mates Phil Schacter who also now one of my best mates as well.

“We got taken care of at the Wildcats and me and Offers would train are ass off for the team.

“The level of play over there is still in very early stages. I believe it would be like an Open 2 or 3 park footy team, but in saying that the people organising to just get games on are doing it all off there on back.” says Kristian

It was then time for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup where the halfback would represent the USA Tomahawks in a campaign that saw them reach the quarter finals.

Freed has since gone on to partake in the 2017 World Cup with the re-branded USA Hawks and has now played 17 games (including three 9’s matches) for the USA.

 

He has reminisced about his favourite moment in the Red, White and Blue.

“My favourite moment would definitely be before the 2013 World Cup.

“France paid for the USA team to come over and play them in a friendly. So a bunch of Cup level players and a few NRL players with a week of training under their belt went over to Toulouse and knocked off the 4th ranked team in the world!

“I have that jersey signed by my whole USA team and framed in my room”

Although the Tomahawks name holds a special place for Freed, he always appreciates his time spent the USA national side.

“It does piss me off that we are not the Tomahawks still cause we created something in that 2013 World Cup that they really could of built a brand off!

“But the team I play with is like my club team. Most of us have been mates since 2013 and when we get into camp it’s a real family vibe and always a great experience.

“I wasn’t apart of the 2012 qualifiers but really for the last 8 years the USA boys have been putting up their own money to try keep us in the World Cup and it just shows even being heritage players how much everyone cares about it and growing the game internationally.” Freed stated.

One memory that he’ll never forget is the 2013 Rugby League World cup quarter-final which saw the USA come up against the might of the the Australian Kangaroos side. Not just due to the opposition he was playing against, but for a reason that mean’t the world to him.

“The cool thing is my last game of footy my dad saw me play is was against Australia in a World Cup quarter-final”

Kristian Freed is now back at his junior club the Wests Mitchelton Panthers in Queensland and is a co host on the Any Given Monday’s podcast which you can find on Facebook, YouTube and your podcast provider.

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