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Nathan Freer leaves Knights as Matt Nicholson is lined up
THE revolving door at Huntington Stadium is soon to spin with a shock exit from the ranks coupled with a quick replacement.
York City Knights have been hit by the news former Press Player of the Year Nathan Freer is set to leave in order to take up a teacher training course at Bishop Burton College, near Beverley.
However, they have acted quickly to find a replacement, with The Press believing former Leeds Rhinos and Dewsbury prop Matt Nicholson is to be offered terms for 2013.
Freer told The Press he would have been stupid to turn down the opportunity presented to him by Bishop Burton, and praised the club for agreeing to release him from his contract, which had another year to run.
He added he would love to come back to Huntington Stadium for a third spell once his college commitments are over – possibly when the union season ends next April.
The 23-year-old has accepted a scholarship on the understanding he plays for their rugby union team – even though he has never played the 15-a-side code before. With or without the union, the course would have meant he was unable to commit fully to the Knights.
“The scholarship means they will pay my fees and give me a role lecturing at the college. I would be stupid not to do it,” he said.
“It’s what I’ve wanted to do long-term. It’s quite a big decision but John Guildford (Knights chairman) and Gary Thornton (head coach) have been excellent. It was a hard decision but also an easy one in that potentially it will set me up for the rest of my life.
“The main thing is I wouldn’t be able to commit to pre-season training – it wouldn’t have been fair on the Knights.
“Bishop Burton said the scholarship included playing for their union team. Hopefully I can come back (to York) once that’s finished.
“I’ve never played union before so it’s a new challenge. But I’m more looking at it as something I need to do to concentrate on my (teaching) career rather than the rugby.”
Hull-based Freer first came to Huntington Stadium in 2010 and played 25 games that year, helping the Knights to promotion through the Championship One play-offs.
He played 20 times in 2011, being named Player of the Year, before signing for then Championship champions Featherstone. He returned to York at the end of March, playing 14 more games.
He added: “I’ve really enjoyed my rugby at York.
“John, Gary and Chris Thorman (head coach last year) have been great. I’ve only met Gary a few times but I think it’s quite an exciting time for the club.”