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Roosters relishing French flavour

Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent NRL.com Tue, Jan 28, 2014 - 7:00 AM

Roosters hooker Jake Friend has backed French international Remi Casty to transition well into the NRL. Copyright: NRL Photos

He may struggle with his coffee orders at the local Bondi cafes but the torrid nature of his play will ensure Remi Casty fits right in to the NRL according to new Sydney Roosters teammate Jake Friend.

Along with former Rooster Heath L'Estrange and Curtis Naughton, Casty is one of three Super League players lured to join the defending premiers during the off-season and as an experienced French international arguably has the most to prove.

Casty was named in the Super League Dream Team playing under Roosters coach Trent Robinson at Catalans Dragons in 2012 and Friend is confident that he has seen enough in training to suggest the rugged Casty will be a handy addition to the forward stocks.

"He's just a strong... He's just a goer. He goes and goes and looks real strong in the gym and that sort of thing. Bit of a workhorse and it will be good to see how he goes this year," Friend told NRL.com.

"He's not too bad with the sun, his English isn't too great but he's all good, he's settling in and from what he's looked like at training he should go well."

In four matches for France at the 2013 World Cup Casty topped the French statistics in metres (340) and offloads (six) from their four matches. With the retirement of Luke O'Donnell and loss of Martin Kennedy to the Broncos, the 19-time Test representative is in line to earn a spot in the Roosters front row and lay the platform for Friend to continue his good form of the past three years.

For the third year in succession Friend attended the QAS Emerging Origin camp in Brisbane recently and credits the exposure to the Maroons culture for his outstanding form and push for higher honours.

Due to turn 24 on February 4 – the day before Casty turns 29 – Friend drew high praise for his performance in the Roosters' Grand Final win last season and has been anointed by Maroons coach Mal Meninga as the likely successor to captain Cameron Smith's hooking position.

The Emerging Origin camp has already proven to be a fertile breeding ground for Queensland's current period of dominance and Friend believes he is ready to step into the breach should an opportunity arise.

"Obviously it's great to be a part of and there are some great players in the squad and it's good to get up here and learn a bit about the culture and that sort of thing that they want to have in the Queensland team," said Friend.

"You learn a few new things and it definitely puts a bit of a fire in the belly to play well and try and get picked [for Queensland] I suppose. It's a good thing for your footy and it's good to be back in the squad this year.

"I'd love to play [Origin] but I'm in no rush. I'm happy to keep just trying to play well for the Roosters and if I get a crack then that'd be unreal."

There is a Super League influence in the coaching staff at the Roosters in 2014 also with England coach Steve McNamara joining the set-up as assistant coach.

"He's good. He's been around training a fair bit and the coaching staff are all great," said Friend. "He's actually spent a bit of time at the Roosters in years prior so it will be good to work with him a bit more as the season goes on.

"Not a whole heap [has changed] but obviously we want to get better in everything that we were doing last year. We've got the same squad which helps as well which is good, there are not too many guys starting from scratch. Everyone knows what we're doing and that sort of thing so that makes it a bit easier."