The breakthrough year of England’s new sensation Freddie Steward
At the beginning of the year the name Freddie Steward would not have registered for many England fans that were not followers of Leicester Tigers.
The 20-year-old was a regular for the Tigers by then, but was barely on Eddie Jones’ radar as the England coach seemed fairly settled with his back three during the 2021 Six Nations.
There were plenty of calls for changes to be made to the England squad after a poor Six Nations though, but even then the fullback’s name was not necessarily high on the agenda, rather it was the likes of Marcus Smith, Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds. Fast forward to the end of the year and he is now spearheading this new generation of England players that Jones blooded into the team over the autumn.
The British & Irish Lions tour certainly helped Steward as it decimated Jones’ back three options over the summer. Both Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly were in South Africa, while Jonny May was rested for the Twickenham Tests against the USA and Canada, which opened the door for Steward to earn his first two caps.
Injuries to Daly and Watson over the autumn meant the Tigers fullback was poised to keep hold of the No15 shirt, where he looked to have cemented his place in the team. Back to back try-scoring man of the match performances against Australia and South Africa means he is the incumbent England fullback going into the 2022 Six Nations, and it will take a lot to topple him.
A highlights reel of his 2021 shows what a player he is and why he was undoubtedly the find of the autumn for Jones’ side, or maybe even any side. Dominant in the air standing at 6′ 5″ and a strong ball carrier, the video is impressive viewing.
Take a look: