The only thing that could have topped Tom Freebairn’s long-awaited NRL debut was if his good mate Jackson Hastings was playing alongside him.
Freebairn and Hastings have known each other since they were six years old, played with and against each other on the south coast, and even attended the same high school.
Which is why there was a bit of a heavy heart for Freebairn, whose maiden NRL start on Sunday comes at the expense of his dear friend Hastings.
Had Hastings not snapped his fibula in a shocking hip-drop tackle last Saturday and undergone surgery, Freebairn knows he may have been waiting a little longer to feature in the top flight.
Hastings posted a special message on Twitter from his hospital bed when he learned this week Freebairn, a 27-year-old lock, would debut for the Tigers against Newcastle. “Proud of this bloke….