Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend has revealed he used his time on the sidelines injured to study coach Trent Robinson at close quarters and believes it’ll make him a better player.
The workaholic rake made his long-awaited return in Friday night’s defeat to Brisbane and despite coming off the bench still managed to clock up an astonishing 51 tackles.
The Suncorp Stadium clash was his first appearance since last year’s preliminary final defeat to South Sydney where he tore the cartilage in his right shoulder less than a month after suffering a potentially life-threatening chest injury against Penrith.
It’s believed the internal bleeding sustained from that injury led to the staph infection that delayed Friend’s surgery date by a month, forcing him to sit out the first five rounds of the season.
Although he admits he’s not generally a good spectator the Queenslander, who was appointed co-captain with Mitchell Pearce at the start of the year, took the opportunity to watch games from coaching box and said the experience was enlightening one.
“I am terrible usually, I don’t like watching at all, I just want to be out there helping the boys,” Friend told AAP.
“But I knew it was important to have a positive mentality when I was on the sidelines.
“I was in with ‘Robbo’ and the coaches and that is something I’ve never done before.
“It was really interesting to see the game from a different perspective.”
Friend’s transformation from the bad boy youngster shown the door by the club in 2009 to joint captain six years later has been well documented but he feels now is the time for him to really step up in his new role.
The Roosters head to Melbourne this Saturday trying to avoid a third successive defeat on a ground where they’ve tasted success just twice in 10 years.
“It’s been tough when you’re not playing and now I am looking forward to getting on the field and leading as best as I can,” he said.
“It’s a big game this week and one of the toughest trips in the comp and a real emphasis on us to win.”