- 338Wallaby Number
Ernie Freeman was a solidly built forward who emerged from Sydney club rugby in the immediate aftermath of World War II to win a place on the 1946 Wallaby tour of New Zealand.
Born in Sydney and educated at Drummoyne Public School, Freeman, for his time, was a veritable giant at 6ft 2in, and 16 st. He actually began his rugby career as a centre, and later as a winger. When he hit 14 st. Freeman decided that his future likely lay in the forwards and progressed from No.8 to the middle row before he ultimately debuted for Australia at prop.
Aged 16 he was selected from Five Dock to play for combined Metropolitan Junior Rugby Union first grade against the combined Manly District A grade team at the S.C.G. in a curtain raiser to the 1st Test between Australia and New Zealand. Freeman joined the Drummoyne club and made his first grade debut in 1941. He enlisted in the army but continued to play in the Shute Shield.
During the course of the war, Freeman played three matches for Combined Services. In 1945 Freeman made his state debut at lock against Queensland where he was one of the “best men in the New South Wales forwards”. The following year he missed state selection but was chosen, at prop, for The Rest v. Australia trial match ahead of the tour to New Zealand. Against the odds, Freeman was picked for the tour. He played in nine of the 12 matches and was recognised for his robust play as one of the most improved members of the team. Although not selected in the Test XV Freeman did make his debut in Dunedin when he came off the bench to replace Eric Tweedale who suffered a probable shoulder dislocation.
In 1947 Freeman broke his right wrist playing for Drummoyne against University, an injury that cruelly ruled him out of the home series against New Zealand and ultimately cost him a spot on the Third Wallabies tour to the U.K. and Europe.
Ernie Freeman played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #338.
Freeman won his first Test cap as a replacement prop for Eric Tweedale in the 1st Test 8-31 loss to New Zealand at Carisbrook.