Jono Freeman arrives in Perth

Monday, June 22, 2020 - 9:45 AM by Katie de Haer

East Perth’s playing stocks have been bolstered ahead of the 2020 WAFL Season with the arrival of former NEAFL and Brisbane Lions forward Jonathan Freeman.

Freeman signed with the Royals in October but his trip across the Nullarbor was delayed after he suffered an epileptic seizure on the morning he was scheduled to fly to Perth.

Now healthy, and managing his condition through medication, Freeman jetted into Western Australia on Monday.

Due to State Government coronavirus restrictions, he will isolate for two weeks before starting his journey with the Royals.

“East Perth presented me with a good opportunity and I was keen for a bit of a change,” Freeman said.

“I’ve played all my football in Queensland and I wanted to do something different. I felt really welcomed by the club, it was an easy decision in the end.

“It was just unfortunate what happened when I came to fly over.”

The delay to the WAFL season caused by COVID-19 has meant that Freeman hasn't missed any game time.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot and am pretty confident with where I am at with my health. 

“The way it all panned out (with the coronavirus pandemic), I’ve only missed a bit of pre-season.”

Freeman will bring added AFL experience to the Royals' playing list, having spent four seasons with the Brisbane Lions (between 2014-2017). Since his time at the Lions came to an end he has been playing for Aspley in the NEAFL, kicking 81 goals over two seasons. He was the club’s leading goalkicker last year, and is confident that he can have a similar influence at the Royals.

“I’d like to have an impact straight away,” he said.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot to give. I’m 26 now and that’s the age where key forwards tend to come into their prime. 

“I reckon I’ve got my best footy ahead of me, and, I guess, ultimately, I want to win a premiership. If I can contribute to that in some way, I’d be stoked.” 

At 199cm, the big-bodied Freeman is also capable of pinch hitting in the ruck and will draw on his own experiences to help guide East Perth’s developing players.

“I’ve learnt a lot over the time,” he said.

“I guess, I’d like to help develop any young forwards in the squad. I’m big enough to pinch hit in the ruck, if I’m needed. 

“I think there’s a few different aspects where I can lend a hand and help the team out.” 

As Freeman finds his feet in Perth he’ll be alongside a familiar face in former Lions teammate Nick Robertson who signed with the Royals in January. 

“We got drafted in the same year, so I know him pretty well. I’ve met a few players but don’t really know anyone else closely. I’ve met Tom Gorter, Angus Scott and Stan Wright. I’m keen to get over and learn more.” 

In the shutdown period, Freeman has used the time to build his aerobic capacity and work on his strength and is confident he’ll be able to make an impact early.

“I’ve been doing a fair bit of work over here (in Queensland).

“It was hard, I haven’t been able to do heaps of drills or footy type training, but I’ve definitely kept myself fit aerobically and kept my strength up. 

“I reckon a couple of weeks training and I’ll be right to go.”