Injured Rooster Jake Friend says the Tricolours' new connection with NSW Cup outfit the Wyong Roos is a boost for the club, as coach Trent Robinson continues his search for the hooker's replacement for the early rounds of the season.
Roos prop Magnus Stromquist and hooker Mitch Williams joined the Roosters squad at the beginning of the pre-season and Friend can already see the positives in the Roosters' relationship with the Wyong club.
"There are definitely advantages of the Wyong connection so far. Those two especially, in Stromquist and Williams, have both excelled in the pre-season," Friend told NRL.com.
"Magnus and Mitch have been unreal. It'll be good to see how they go against some of the NRL teams in the trials because they have been excellent."
While Friend is currently on the shelf with a shoulder injury and a subsequent staph infection as a result of surgery, the Wyong Roos could hold the solution to coach Robinson's hooking dilemma.
With Williams impressing at the Auckland Nines alongside young gun Jackson Hastings – who played twice in the NRL last year – Robinson isn't certainly lacking in options.
Matt McIlwrick also joined the club in December, and the former Raiders utility remains the favourite to wear Friend's No.9 jumper with the experience of 19 NRL games boosting his chances.
"Hasting and Williams played really well in Auckland and Matty has been training really well over here as well so with a couple of trials coming up over the next two weekends I guess that will really determine who is going to play in that spot," Friend said.
"I'm not sure what way Robbo will go, they are all very different players. Matty is really tough in defence and the other two are definitely more attacking sort of players so I don't know how he'll go about picking it."
Unsure of when he'll return, Friend is yet to jump back into contact training with his focus remaining on getting the shoulder fully prepared for the season ahead.
"We're just trying to get my strength back and get full range back into the shoulder," he said.
"It's coming slowly but it's coming along well and the physios are happy. Hopefully it keeps progressing the way it is.
"I'm starting to get a bit of air in the lungs and kilometres in the legs though. It was a bit tough in the first week, and I've spent a couple of weeks on the bike too, which I hate, but it has been good to get back into the training after so long."
Will Matt McIlwrick be in your NRL Fantasy team?