True Blue Luke Lewis runs his eye over third generation Shark Kade Dykes and The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup veteran Tom Freebairn, with the pair set to make their long-awaited first grade debuts in Round 21.
NRL historian David Middleton said on social media that Dykes – son of Adam and grandson of John – will make his debut on Saturday to mark just the second time in as many weeks that three generations have played first grade for the same club (the first player was Zac Fulton, grandson of Rugby League Immortal Bob Fulton and son of Scott, for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles).
Saturday’s game marks a great few days for the Dykes family in more ways than one, with Kade also re-committing for the Sharks on a two-year deal.
On Sunday one of the current longest-serving NSW Cup campaigners and Wests Magpies captain Tom Freebairn gets a thoroughly-deserved NRL start for the Tigers.
Born in Ipswich, the now 27-year-old came to the Illawarra at a young age, played junior footy for the Dapto Canaries and came all the way through the St George Illawarra pathways system from Harold Matthews Cup to Under 20s.
He made his first NSW Cup appearance for the North Sydney Bears in 2017 under former coach, Ben Gardiner, who saw the need for Freebairn’s quality and experience when he reconnected with the lock forward at the Magpies last season.
Just an hour north of Dapto is De La Salle Caringbah, the junior club of Dykes. He only came onto the scene at NSW Cup level for the Newtown Jets this year, playing 13 matches so far.
Developing a lethal combination with a spine contingent of Lachlan Miller, Braydon Trindall and Jayden Berrell to have Newtown sitting pretty atop the table, the 20-year-old has already recorded eight tries, nine try assists, 15 line breaks, eight line break assists and 68 tackle busts – averaging just over 130 metres per game.
As for Freebairn his road to the top grade has been a much longer journey, and he was overcome with emotion when Tigers coach Brett Kimmorley gave him the news on Tuesday.
“It’s hard to explain, I was just so excited, and yet at the same time, a bit relieved,” Freebairn told Wests Tigers Media.
“I guess I have feared that this day might not come, but I’ve just kept at it, and here I am at 26 years of age and about to play first grade."
What Lewy says:
“Kade Dykes, we talked about him a week or two ago, he’s been playing outstanding football, absolutely tearing it up in the NSW Cup.
“I’m super excited to see Kade run around this weekend and I know he’s playing in the number one jersey for the Sharks.
“A third generation of Dykeses getting his opportunity, it happened last week with the Fultons and now this week with the Dykes family... can’t wait to see how he goes, I reckon he’s going to kill it.”
On Freebairn: “He gets his opportunity this weekend and makes his debut for the Wests Tigers, he’s been playing great football for the Magpies.
“He’s a lock, coming off the bench, can’t wait to see what he can do on the first grade field.”
“(Tigers) coming off a big win over the Broncos, so I really look forward to Tom getting his opportunity on the weekend.”