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Welcome return for the Frei who came in from the cold

When it comes to lashings of resilience, perseverance and patience, Jackson Frei takes a lot of beating.

So it couldn’t be more appropriate that ‘Jacko’ should this week provide one of the most heart-warming tales of what has been another challenging Covid-impacted season for the Vodafone Warriors.

It has come about through interim head coach Stacey Jones including the tall Queenslander on the bench for Friday night’s Homecoming Series #2 clash against Melbourne at Mount Smart Stadium. That in itself tells little of Frei’s story.

For here is a player who’s not in the club’s top 30 players, existing instead on a modest opportunity contract with nothing set for next year.  

Friday night’s contest against the Storm will be just his second NRL appearance, almost a year since his debut as Vodafone Warrior #265 against Canterbury Bankstown in Redcliffe last August.

Perhaps more fittingly it will give an ultimate club man the distinct thrill of his first NRL appearance at Mount Smart Stadium on a night when fullback Reece Walsh, winger Edward Kosi and second rower Eliesa Katoa will do likewise.

Frei’s previous Mount Smart experiences were with the club’s Canterbury Cup side in 2019 before the Covid pandemic threw everything upside down in 2020.

His first two seasons with the club after being signed from the Sydney Roosters were gruelling to say the least.

Recovery from a shoulder injury delayed his start with the Vodafone Warriors in 2019 before he became a regular in the Canterbury Cup side.

Heartache would follow in 2020 when his hopes were dashed by a season-ending ACL knee injury in the club’s NRL trial against the Storm in Palmerston North in February.

It meant 2021 was a case of starting all over again, Frei spending most of the season with feeder club the Redcliffe Dolphins in the Queensland Cup competition until he was handed his NRL debut against the Bulldogs on August 15.

He was chosen to start the match, playing the first 25 minutes before returning for the last two minutes of the 24-10 victory. He ran for 41 metres from five carries and made 14 tackles without a miss.

In 15 appearances for the Dolphins last year and another eight so far this season, Frei has scored seven tries, made 25 tackle breaks and averages 102 metres and 22 tackles a game.

On Friday night he’s back where he has been striving to be, playing in the NRL against the competition’s benchmark side of the modern era and doing it at Mount Smart.

Few players have deserved the opportunity more.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece Walsh
    Fullback for Storm is number 1 Nick Meaney
  • Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
    Winger for Storm is number 2 Dean Ieremia
  • Centre for Warriors is number 3 Marcelo Montoya
    Centre for Storm is number 3 Marion Seve
  • Centre for Warriors is number 4 Adam Pompey
    Centre for Storm is number 4 Justin Olam
  • Winger for Warriors is number 5 Edward Kosi
    Winger for Storm is number 5 Grant Anderson
  • Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Chanel Harris-Tavita
    Five-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
  • Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun Johnson
    Halfback for Storm is number 7 Jahrome Hughes

Forwards

  • Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
    Prop for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
  • Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
    Hooker for Storm is number 9 Harry Grant
  • Prop for Warriors is number 10 Tohu Harris
    Prop for Storm is number 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken
    2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
  • 2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Josh Curran
    2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich
  • Lock for Warriors is number 13 Jazz Tevaga
    Lock for Storm is number 15 Tui Kamikamica

Interchange

  • Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Freddy Lussick
    Interchange for Storm is number 13 Josh King
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty Afoa
    Interchange for Storm is number 14 Tyran Wishart
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Eliesa Katoa
    Interchange for Storm is number 16 Alec MacDonald
  • Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Jackson Frei
    Interchange for Storm is number 21 Tom Eisenhuth

Reserves

  • Replacement for Warriors is number 20 Daejarn Asi
    Replacement for Storm is number 18 Chris Lewis

Match Officials

  • Referee: Peter Gough
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Senior Review Official: Adam Gee

Last updated:

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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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