After a stint away in the big smoke, Seymour’s Tom Freeman is back in the thick of things at his home club.
And in a season where the Lions are still in the running for a finals berth, but are yet to play their best football, Freeman has proven to be one of his team’s most reliable performers.
The midfielder, 25, is one of four Lions to run out in all 15 matches this season, in which he has been named among the best nine times.
‘‘I’ve tried to be relatively consistent,’’ Freeman said.
‘‘(The GVL) has a higher skill level than Melbourne, so I’ve been adapting to that.
‘‘I’ve tried to be consistent with effort and do the team things well.’’
It is these one-percenters, such as tackling, shepherding and being strong at the ball that Freeman credits as his biggest strength.
After moving up the ranks of the Seymour football scene, first as a junior with St Mary’s followed by reserve and senior appearances with the Lions, this year is Freeman’s first in the Goulburn Valley League since 2016 after living in Melbourne for the past two years.
He took his services to VAFA club Prahan Assumption, where he won the 2017 Division Two premiership, while also playing alongside brother Dan.
But after the city experience, Freeman soon found himself itching to return to his childhood home.
‘‘I’ve always enjoyed the country and always wanted to move back,’’ he said.
‘‘My partner and I have built a house and we enjoy having family and friends around.’’
Playing in one of the best country leagues in the state has been a renewed challenge for Freeman, though the physicality of the country league has proved a shock to the body.
‘‘There is lots of training to prepare for that higher skill level,’’ Freeman said.
‘‘Some of these guys have played in the AFL or VFL — so you have your work cut out for you.
‘‘But that is part of the enjoyment.’’
It is there Freeman’s off-field talents as a physiotherapist have come in handy for his preparation and recovery, as well as those of his teammates.
‘‘We’re lucky to have a really good physio, Tony Waite, at the club,’’ Freeman said.
‘‘But having the knowledge myself is beneficial.
‘‘And I try and chip in and help with blokes who have an injury or are sore.’’