FORMER CASTLEFORD Tigers star Gary Freeman inspired Shaun Edwards to become one of the world’s best players, the new Hall of Fame member has revealed.
Edwards was this week inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame, along with Hunslet legend Albert Goldthorpe.
He played alongside Freeman – who spent part of the 1983-84 season at Castleford and went on to coach New Zealand – for Balmain Tigers in the late 1980s and against him when Great Britain whitewashed the Kiwis in the 1993 Test series.
“Back in ’93, the player I was up against was Gary Freeman, who I thought was one of, if not the, best scrum-half in the world,” Edwards recalled.
“He was a great competitor – just really, really competitive – and I suppose he brought the best out of me in that series.
“The series before I’d thought he’d played much better than me and that had been on my mind for a year or a year and a half.
“I trained really, really hard that summer, probably the hardest I’d ever trained, as I knew I was playing against Gary Freeman and didn’t want to have that same feeling I’d had before.
“In ’92, we drew 1-1 with the Kiwis and Gary was outstanding in both Tests, particularly the second when he was absolutely brilliant.
“He definitely motivated me to become even better and play at a higher level still.”