Jono Freeman in action for Brisbane. Photo: David Layden/NEAFL.

By JESS WEBSTER

 

Aspley has bolstered its tall forward stocks with Brisbane Lions premiership forward Jono Freeman joining the club for the 2018 NEAFL season.

The 23-year-old was delisted by the Lions at season’s end after 14 AFL games in four seasons.

A Noosa product, Freeman made his NEAFL debut as a 17-year-old for Brisbane in 2011, and played his first match for the Hornets in 2013.

He was drafted that same year, and in doing so became the first Lions Academy member to graduate on to the club’s senior list.

As he looks ahead to life after the AFL, Freeman said he still feels he has plenty to offer on the field.

“I’m really excited to get back to Aspley and put in some hard work,” he said.

“I think I had a reasonable year in the NEAFL, making the Team of the Year and kicking 40 goals, but I think what hurt me was kicking 40 behinds on top of that.

“But I really enjoyed my footy this year, even though I wasn’t playing seniors, and also having a run of games where I haven’t been injured.

“I feel like my body is starting to settle down now. I think I’ve got a lot of good footy ahead of me, and I think it would be a waste to give up on it now.”

While disappointed to not be handed a lifeline in Monday’s AFL Rookie Draft, Freeman is looking forward to reuniting with some familiar faces at Aspley, including coach John Blair.

He only played the one match for the Hornets, but Freeman remembers it well.

“We were playing Queanbeyan down in Canberra and we were pretty solid favourites to get the job done,” he said.

“But we came into half-time about four goals down, and I remember the boys just copped a big spray from Blairy. It was a good wake up call.

“But he has obviously had a lot of success with getting Queenslanders drafted in the AFL system, so I’m sure he’ll be able to  help me out with a few different things.

“I just want to have a really solid year at Aspley and contribute, and hopefully get some team success off the back of my first premiership with Brisbane.”

Freeman was one of the NEAFL’s best forwards in 2017, earning NEAFL Team of the Year honours after 39 goals from 20 games, including the Lions’ premiership victory over Sydney.

Meanwhile, Aspley has also signed former Melbourne ruckman Jake Spencer. The 28-year-old was delisted from the Demons this year after an injury-hit 10 seasons at the club.

The first player from Townsville to be drafted to the AFL, Spencer is a former Redland Bombers player who was rookie-listed by Melbourne in the 2008 AFL Rookie Draft.

 

 

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