Tough Roosters hooker Jake Friend was out of hospital in time to see his mates hang on to win a thrilling 22-18 clash against fellow competition heavyweights South Sydney, and afterwards in-form halfback Mitch Pearce revealed the players were motivated to play better for their stricken mate.
Pearce told reporters after the game he had gone to see Friend while he was in hospital and was naturally relieved to see him back up and about following a haemothorax – a bleeding within the chest cavity.
"It was a pretty serious injury at the time and he's still a little bit pale; obviously we want him back [on the field] but it's more important to get his health right. It's not a nice thing to see, when you see a teammate and a mate in that situation," Pearce said.
"I suppose there's always injuries in footy but that sort of stuff you don't see too much of. Everyone was really worried about him but he's a tough bloke and hopefully he recovers well and we get him back out on the field in the next few weeks."
Pearce described the likely future Queensland representative as "the toughest bloke I know" and said that mentally, getting back on the paddock won't be a problem for Friend once he is fit.
"Everyone that knows Friendy – he's just one of those guys you instantly respect because he's so tough, he's just a weapon. To see him around, he's a future leader of the club.
"He's such an important part and one of our best players, to see him there in pain there's no doubt you want to play that bit better for him when he's not out there."