England line up Northampton Saints star Tommy Freeman as lucky No 13, with his versatility and 6ft 2in frame convincing Eddie Jones he could be Manu Tuilagi’s successor
- Rising star Tommy Freeman packs a punch at 6ft 2in and 16 stone in the centre
- He’s been used by Northampton Saints at wing or full-back and is a real talent
- The 21-year-old is set to travel to Australia with England on tour this summer
Tommy Freeman’s breakthrough season with Northampton has put him in contention to be at the centre of the England side.
He is still uncapped but Sportsmail understands Freeman’s ability and versatility have impressed the head coach, who feels he could be a long-term option at outside centre.
Tommy Freeman is set to travel with England for their tour of Australia this summer
Freeman has played mostly on the wing or at full back for Saints this term, scoring 10 tries in 12 starts.
But at 6ft 2in and more than 16st, Jones believes he will be a midfield option moving forward as England seek a successor to the injury-prone Manu Tuilagi.
Freeman is set to travel to Australia with England this summer and although he is not yet a certain international starter, his future looks bright.
After recovering from ankle surgery, Owen Farrell is set to return to England’s midfield for the three July Tests against the Wallabies with Tuilagi or Henry Slade most likely to partner him.
Freeman’s versatility for Northampton on the wing, at full-back or in the centre is to his credit
Jones is well aware of the need to have a carrying presence in midfield which is why Tuilagi — when fit — remains pivotal, despite the long periods he spends on the treatment table.
Other than Tuilagi, now 31, there are few power centres in English rugby, which is why Jones is keen to explore Freeman playing in that position.
With the 2023 World Cup looming, Freeman’s ability to play three positions makes him a strong contender to be in Jones’ 33-man party for the tournament.
Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd said: ‘We were delighted to get six players in that England training squad. It’s really good for the club and a good chance for the players.
‘Tommy played a lot of his school rugby at fly-half. I think he could comfortably play anywhere in the backs apart from scrum-half. He’s a really good talent and a developing athlete.
Freeman has a bright future but it would be a surprise to see him start in Australia
‘He’s got a massive upside. I don’t know where his ceiling is but it’s high.’
Freeman’s first senior England appearance could come against the Barbarians on June 19 —although he will not be involved if Northampton reach the Premiership final, which takes place the day before.
Boyd’s Saints only have to beat lowly Newcastle at home on the final day of the regular season a week on Saturday to seal fourth place and the one remaining play-off spot.
They would then likely face bitter rivals and Premiership leaders Leicester — the club where Freeman started his career — for a place in the final.