Friend's freakish effort straight from the trampoline

Most of the freakish plays you see in the Telstra Premiership are born out of hours on the training paddock, perfecting every last detail for that moment when it's required.

 

But this one came straight from the trampoline in the backyard of the Friend family home in Auckland.

After producing the spectacular no-look, through-the-legs offload while upside down in mid-air, which lead to Tuimoala Lolohea's 57th minute try on Sunday night, Warriors hooker Nathan Friend said it came down to hours of bouncing with sons Axel, 7, and Oliver, 5.

"I just went up for the ball, contested it and it was fortunate that all those days on the trampoline with my boys came good," Friend explained after the 28-14 win, which propelled the Warriors into the top four.

"The fatherhood mate [gets the credit for that one], exactly.

"I guess we were lucky it went to one of our guys, it might not have been that fantastic if it was a runaway try [to the Storm]."

The freakish effort started with a Chad Townsend bomb, which looked to have fallen well short of the target zone as it dropped eight metres out from the try line.

As Friend jumped and took the ball he collided with Storm defender Kenny Bromwich, sending him summersaulting forward. After releasing the Steeden on his way down it was scooped up by fullback Sam Tomkins, who moved it to Shaun Johnson who returned it via a flick pass, before shifting wide to David Fusitu'a.

 

From there 20-year-old Lolohea did the rest, snaking his body around the sideline and finishing despite the attention of three Storm cover defenders.

As well as incredible skill the move was full of bravery from Friend, choosing to pass the ball rather than brace himself for the fall to the ground.

His coach, Andrew McFadden, said it was a game-changing play, "we don’t get the try unless he does that," but the 213-game veteran insisted it was just instincts.

"I was just worried about getting the ball away because I knew it was the last tackle," Friend said.

"There was a lot to be done afterwards, I was just lucky I threw it to Shauny, he went well tonight."

And as for an extra reward for Axel and Oliver in recognition of their part in the contender for try of the year?

"Nah, they get enough pocket money mate," Friend laughed.

Speaking to NRL.com after the match Jonathan Wright said it was an amazing sight on the field, claiming it was one of the finest pieces of skill he's seen.

"It was awesome, that's what we can do. We always know we can do that, scoring points like that, it's good to build on," he said.

"It's great to watch, I have played with some great players in the past and you just watch and think 'geez, freakish stuff'. 

"We always know we can score points and that we have that talent where something can happen from anywhere on the park."

While Wright also took time to applaud halfback Shaun Johnson's individual effort on the final try of the game, which saw him step Cameron Smith, before beating would-be tackles from Ryan Hinchcliffe and Cameron Munster in a 30-metre dash to the line. 

"I have only played 13 games with him and he is climbing up the ladder in terms of the most skilful guys I have played with," Wright said.

"I had already watched him and he was already there before I played with him anyway. He is a freak and only a young talent.

"I have played with Jarryd Hayne and Benny Barba, but Shaun is a class player."