Gary Freeman (rugby league)
Gary Ross Freeman MNZM (born 4 December 1962) is a New Zealand former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1980s and 1990s, and coached in the 2000s, who both captained and coached the New Zealand national team. He was arguably one of New Zealand's greatest Test halfbacks and at the time of his retirement he was the most-capped New Zealand test player and also held the record for most consecutive tests for New Zealand with 37. As a player, he was a notably enthusiastic exponent of the face massage, typically as second or third man to the tackle.
Freeman in 2008
|Full name||Gary Ross Freeman|
|Born||4 December 1962|
Auckland, New Zealand
|Height||175 cm (5 ft 9 in)|
|Weight||83 kg (183 lb; 13 st 1 lb)|
Freeman played his club football in New Zealand for Auckland's Northcote club, in the UK for England's Kent Invicta and Castleford clubs, and in Australia for Sydney's Balmain (with whom he reached the 1988 and 1989 Grand Finals), Eastern Suburbs (with whom he won the 1992 Dally M Medal), Penrith and Parramatta clubs.
In 1982 Freeman was graded by the Northcote Tigers as a nineteen year-old in the Auckland Rugby League competition and played there for most of the 1980s, gaining representative selection for the Auckland rugby league team. He also played in England for Kent Invicta at the start of the 1983-84 season. Freeman also spending a season playing for English club Castleford. He was selected to go on the 1986 New Zealand rugby league tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea and made his debut for the Kiwis at halfback in the second Test against Australia. He was retained for the third Test against Australia and for both Tests against Papua New Guinea.
Freeman was moved to Australia to play for Sydney club Balmain Tigers in the 1988 NSWRL season. During the mid-season 1988 Great Britain Lions tour Freeman played from the bench for New Zealand in the sole Test match in Christchurch, scoring two tries that helped the Kiwis to a vcitory that booked their place in the final of the 1985–1988 Rugby League World Cup. Before that however, Freeman was selected to play at halfback for the Balmain Tigers in the 1988 Grand Final. He played for New Zealand in the halves at the 1988 World Cup Final which was lost to Australia.
Freeman played in all three Tests of the 1989 Kangaroo tour of New Zealand. Later that year he made it two consecutive Grand Finals when he again played at halfback for Balmain in the 1989 NSWRL season's Premiership decider.
In all three Tests of the 1990 Great Britain Lions tour, Freeman was selected to play at halfback for the Kiwis. He was selected to captain New Zealand at halfback for the 1991 Trans-Tasman Test series in Australia. Freeman commenced playing for Eastern Suburbs Roosters for the 1992 NSWRL season. During the 1992 Great Britain Lions tour of Australasia Freeman captained New Zealand from halfback in both Test matches, being named man-of-the-match in the first and scoring a try in the  second. At the end of the 1992 NSWRL season Freeman was awarded the Dally M Medal as player of the year for his performance as Eastern Suburbs' halfback.
Nicknamed "Whiz", Freeman was selected to captain the Kiwis from halfback for the 1993 Trans-Tasman Test series against Australia. He then captained the Kiwis from halfback for the 1993 New Zealand rugby league tour of Great Britain and France. For the 1994 NSWRL season Freeman started playing fr the Penrth Panthers. For the first game of the 1995 Trans-Tasman Test series Freeman was replaced as captain of the New Zealand national team by John Lomax, but regained the position for the remaining two games. At the end of that year he travellled with the Kiwis to the UK for the 1995 World Cup, playing his 45th and final international at hooker against Papua New Guinea.
Freeman began the 1996 ARL season as captain of his new club, the Parramatta Eels. The captaincy was eventually transferred to fellow Kiwi Jarrod McCracken and at the end of the 1996 season Freeman retired.
On 31 December 1996 Freeman was included in the 1997 New Year Honours, being named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to rugby league. He later became a rugby league commentator. At the end of the 1997 Super League season Freeman provided commentary for the Grand Final. He did the same for the 1998 Anzac Test.
At the close of the 2000 World Cup, in which New Zealand lost the tournament final against Australia, Freeman was selected to replace Frank Endacott as Kiwis coach. Under Freeman in 2001 New Zealand played a one-off test match against France and defeated them 36-0 at Ericsson Stadium. The Kiwis then played Australia at the new Westpac Stadium in Wellington and lost 28-10.
Freeman was coach for the 2002 New Zealand rugby league tour of Great Britain and France. The tour was Freeman's last as head coach. In 2003 Daniel Anderson was named as the new Kiwis coach. Freeman later became coach of the New South Wales young achievers team.
In 2007 Freeman was inducted as one of the NZRL's Legends of League. He is an Auckland Rugby League Immortal. Freeman worked as the co-host of Fox Sports' NRL coverage and panel member of NRL on FOX until 2011.
- "Statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org". rugbyleagueproject.org. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- "Coach Statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org". rugbyleagueproject.org. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- FREEMAN, Gary Ross 1986 - 95 - Kiwi #599 Archived 2 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine nzleague.co.nz
- Whiticker, Alan. "Gary Freeman". rugbyleagueproject.org. Shawn Dollin, Andrew Ferguson and Bill Bates. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- Hadfield, Dave. "Kiwis arrive with licence to run free". independent.co.uk (20 October 2002). Independent Digital News & Media. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- Bay Roskill Rugby League Inc aucklandleague.co.nz
- Freeman gets his time and more in spotlight North Shore Times Advertiser, 14 January 1997. p.50.
- "New Zealand Rugby League Annual Report 2008" (PDF). NZRL. 2008. Archived from the original (pdf) on 12 September 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
- Stacey Jones, Auckland Rugby League Immortal Archived 24 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine est1995.co.nz, 21 September 2003
New Zealand national rugby league team