Jake Friend agrees with everything his coach Trent Robinson said about the brittle nature of the Sydney Roosters in defence allowing the Cowboys to sneak away with a 15-12 win at Gosford on Sunday.
Robinson labelled the effort in allowing two tries close to the Roosters line as "poor, really poor".
"He said the same to us ... the two tries, in the scheme of footy, were easy tries through our inside shoulders," hooker Jake Friend said.
"As a middle, we've got to tighten that up and be better."
It was only Friend's fourth game of the year – 10 weeks out with a torn right biceps – and his return match showed much promise. He managed 59 minutes, two line-breaks, three tackle busts and to score a try. His 48 tackles after nearly three months out was only topped by Victor Radley (53).
"I wanted to play last week but in hindsight, it was best not to. I was throwing it [arm] out there today and not thinking about it," Friend said.
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"We did some testing and the 10 days [extra rest] did make a lot of difference.
"As for the lungs ... It was just good to get a hit-out."
Friend's return has come at a perfect time for the Roosters as Robinson's men seem to have stalled during the Origin period. Eight straight wins straight from round two have been followed by five losses from the next seven.
Against the Cowboys, alongside some feeble sliding defence, was three missed field goals – two to Cooper Cronk and one to Luke Keary, who is only two games back into his return from five weeks rest after two concussions.
Friend gets his first try back from injury break
"And as a spine player, not being able to ice a field goal ... that's our job in those sorts of moments," Friend said.
"I've been out for a while so coming back in there wasn't a great connection between us. It's something we need to work on.
"It's about getting our whole squad on the park, our best squad, and building on our 'D' because the points will come – we've got the players and we've done it enough times.
"If we want to be competitive at the end of the year we have to get our defence right in the next eight weeks. There's plenty of time so we have to get our 'D' on before the finals.
"It's not doom and gloom. It's just that individually we have to look at our technique and some movement so we win that ruck and that middle part of the field."
"I felt good in attack and personally, it will be good to get back into the rhythm of defence. That's my job in the team to get the defence going again in the middle.
"We've got to tidy things up there and get things going."
Next up is the Mitchell Pearce-led Knights venturing south to the SCG for round 18 next Saturday.