Friend hoses down 'Origin IV' talk
As a former Broncos fan and knockabout Queenslander, Roosters captain Jake Friend isn't expecting the backing of Blues fans as last surviving team from New South Wales in the NRL finals series.
Despite being located in the heart of Sydney, the Roosters' immediate 19-man squad features only nine players aligned to New South Wales, including Origin stars Michael Jennings, Mitchell Pearce and Boyd Cordner.
The minor premiers also boast New Zealand internationals Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Sam Moa and Queenslanders Friend, Dylan Napa and Aidan Guerra.
With North Queensland and Melbourne fighting out this weekend's second preliminary final, Friend played down the State of Origin talk of the Roosters opposing Brisbane on Friday night.
"There is a part I suppose of New South Wales versus Queensland but it's a bit silly isn't it? It doesn't really matter the way it's being compared like that," Friend told NRL.com.
"When it comes down to it, it's the Roosters playing the Broncos in the end.
"In saying that the boys and I are really pumped to get up there, it's going to be a tough game and big challenge.
"A full Suncorp Stadium is going to be an awesome atmosphere and something we are looking forward to as a club – not many will get to experience it as is so it's exciting in that sense."
In his first season co-captaining the team Friend laughed off suggestions it's been an easy run for him, with fellow captain Mitch Pearce spending the past five weeks on the sidelines struggling with a hamstring injury.
"Not having him on the field is a bit different but I think Jimmy [James Maloney] and Jacko [Jackson Hastings] have stepped up in directing the team around and I haven't had to change a whole lot in an on-field sense, but getting Mitch back will be a massive bonus – footy-wise and more importantly leadership-wise too," Friend said.
"Obviously Mitch hasn't been out there on the field but I think in and around training he has been in all our meetings, all our videos, training sessions, so I think he's been pretty vocal. Whilst he hasn't been playing he's still been giving plenty to the team.
"[The captaincy has] been something I've enjoyed too and it's been pretty easy considering the team and the boys we have around here. I said it when I was selected with Mitch, just the history of the club and the captains that have come before me it's pretty awesome company to be in.
"It's something I'm proud of and hopefully my first season in charge isn't done with yet."