MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: Nathan Freeman of the Saints in action during an AFL media opportunity at RSEA Park on July 18, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Former St Kilda and Collingwood midfielder Nathan Freeman has expressed his excitement to be representing Adelaide's SANFL side in 2022 following "a fair few kicks in the guts" across his career.

Freeman amassed just two AFL matches across five seasons in the league after being selected as a top 10 pick in the 2013 National Draft.

Ongoing hamstring injuries hampered his hopes in the top flight, with the Sandringham Dragons product delisted by the Saints at the end of the 2018 season.

Freeman has since continued to hone his talents at the state league level, returning to his best brand of football last year in a stellar campaign with Frankston in the VFL.

The 26-year-old was also trialled as a potential Pre-Season Supplemental Selection Period recruit with Gold Coast this pre-season, before the Suns opted to select Woodville-West Torrens midfielder James Tsitas with their last remaining list spot.

Following his missed chance in Queensland, Freeman soon ventured to South Australia to link up with the Crows following discussions with Adelaide's AFL senior coach Matthew Nicks and the club's list manager Justin Reid.

"Nicksy and Justin Reid got in touch with me and went through the opportunity for myself to come and play… and contribute to the experience of the SANFL side and bolster that up,” Freeman said.

“It was sort of a no-brainer in the end.

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“It’s more just to come and challenge myself in the SANFL, play a different league of footy.

“I’ve also got some good relationships with some of the younger boys at the Adelaide Crows and being able to work with them and provide experience and a little bit of my story as well.”

Now as resilient as ever, Freeman is hopeful injuries are behind him as he prepares to stake his claim in the SANFL.

Brimming with confidence and a new outlook on his career, Freeman will see each opportunity he gains with the Crows as valuable as the one that came before it.

“It is nice to have confidence in my body and know that I can do the work,” Freeman said,

“I’ve had a fair few kicks in the guts during my footy career but I guess I’ve built up the resilience.

“Also having the history I’ve had over the past six, seven years, when I get out there, I probably appreciate it more when I do play.

“To be able to climb back and get to where I am, I’m in a much better space because of it and it’s probably helped my footy in a way, too.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 08: Nathan Freeman of Frankston in action during the round four VFL match between Williamstown Seagulls and Frankston Dolphins at Downer Oval on May 08, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

“I’m pretty grateful for every game I play, now.”

Having averaged 38 disposals for the Dolphins in 2021, Freeman is sure to add a contested edge to the Crows' midfield stocks this season.

Should his campaign at West Lakes be fruitful, Freeman could find himself back on the radar of AFL clubs for the Mid-Season Rookie Draft on June 1.

Adelaide will begin their 2022 SANFL campaign against Port Adelaide on April 1, a curtain-raiser for the AFL Round 3 Showdown.