Under-fire Sydney Roosters skipper Jake Friend will be a long-term captain at the NRL club, coach Trent Robinson says.
Friend has come under criticism for his captaincy this year as the Roosters have endured their worst season since 1966 when they didn’t win a game.
The Roosters have only won three games this season.
On Wednesday, Robinson described criticism of Friend as “poor” and guaranteed the hooker’s position as a leader at the club for seasons to come.
“He has become a real leader for us,” Robinson said.
“He has grown a lot this year. He has been doing a great job and the speculation is not warranted. He will be our leader for a long time.
“It has been poor to say he has not handled the captaincy well. There are some things this year that haven’t been great, but it is not Jake’s fault.
“He has been one of our best players week-in week-out. He has led well on and off the field, with the things that people don’t see.”
Friend served as a co-captain with Mitchell Pearce last season after the retirement of club legend Anthony Minichiello.
Pearce was stripped of the captaincy at the start of the season following his Australia Day antics, leaving Friend to go it alone.
NSW back-rower Boyd Cordner has been strongly linked to a leadership role next season at the Roosters and with the Blues.
It is likely Friend and Cordner will serve as co-captains for the Roosters in 2017.
But Robinson wasn’t keen to discuss that ahead of Thursday’s round 21 match against Brisbane at Allianz Stadium.
“Jake is our leader. We are in the middle of a season. We don’t need to be discussing last year’s plans or future plans, we need to be discussing tomorrow night,” he said.