PLYMOUTH Albion front-row forward Rupert Freestone is hoping to cap an impressive season by helping Cornwall to more success.
The 25-year-old Bristol-based student helped Cornwall win the County Championship last year before swapping National Two South outfit Clifton for National One side Albion, the club where he started his senior career.
Freestone only made two league starts during his first spell at Albion as a youngster but he became a key member of their 2015/16 squad.
He featured in 26 of their 30 league matches, starting 15 of them. His performances saw him win a call up for the England Students squad to play France and Ireland away, which meant he missed Albion’s game at Ampthill and home fixture against Wharfedale.
“Playing for England Students was great,” he said. “It was a shame to be away from the boys but I had spoken to Graham (Dawe) beforehand and he had said ‘you don’t want any regrets in your career’.
“I just felt like I couldn’t turn it down. I am really glad I did go because I made some good friendships and it is always nice to gain international honours. I had not done it for nine or 10 years, so it was nice to do it again.”
After leaving Albion in 2012, Freestone had a year out of rugby due to a shoulder injury before getting a chance at Bristol in the 2013/14 season. He made two British & Irish Cup appearances for them while playing on-loan at Clifton, who he later joined.
But he feels this season he has matured as a player at Albion.
“After leaving Bristol I had been playing National Two rugby with Clifton and I think I had got a little bit complacent,” said Freestone. “I think, particularly with someone like Graham breathing down your neck, there was no danger of that happening at Albion. If you do get a bit complacent you soon know about it.
“I do think I have come on. I think I have matured as a player. I think I make less mistakes, which is a good thing.”
Freestone, who can play hooker or prop, was Cornwall’s hero last weekend when he scored a last-gasp try to secure them a 33-27 win over Gloucestershire to keep alive their hopes of retaining the County Championship title.
“I think that game showed our character,” said Freestone. “We could have collapsed but there are some experienced heads in the (Cornwall) team like Hilts (Ben Hilton) and Damien Cook and I think that experience helps in situations like that.”
Cornwall are at Hertfordshire today and Freestone is hoping they can win and try and get back to Twickenham.
“I think after winning the Championship last year, the goal was always to try and do it again this year,” said Freestone.
“All year everyone, particularly the Plymouth boys, have been looking forward to the County Championship.
“Everyone wants to play at Twickenham. We are just taking it one step at a time but, hopefully, we can get there again.”