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Hostage-surviving rock climbers inspiring premiers

The Roosters have turned to a pair of world-famous rock climbers – one of whom spent six days held hostage in Kyrgyzstan - as they bid for back-to-back premierships without skipper Jake Friend until the finals.

Trent Robinson's side will take on Canterbury on Sunday a week after Friend suffered a broken arm against Newcastle.

Friend has had a plate successfully inserted into his arm after a small fracture around a screw previously put in place to repair his torn biceps – with the Roosters anticipating a six-to-eight week recovery for their inspirational hooker.

A day after losing Friend and an impressive victory over the Knights, Roosters players and staff sat enthralled in the SCG Trust suite as champion rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen held court.

The American climbers have risen to prominence after conquering The Dawn Wall – a route of the El Capitan peak in California’s Yosemite National Park considered impossible to scale.

Caldwell and Jorgensen's incredible 19-day feat has since been transformed into the award-winning documentary, The Dawn Wall, detailing the pair's remarkable bond and in particular Caldwell's moving journey.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson. ©NRL Photos

As well as scaling unprecedented heights, Caldwell was also once held hostage by armed rebels during a climbing expedition in Kyrgyzstan before the release of he and his group was negotiated over a week, while he also lost his index finger just a year later in a power tool accident.

With Caldwell and Jorgensen on a speaking tour of the country, Robinson invited them to tour the SCG and Roosters facilities before a screening of The Dawn Wall and Q and A session with players and their families.

"I've said before about footy clubs, you've got to offer different experiences and different life lessons, and there was a lot in that film and in those guys that we could learn," Robinson told

"It's about what's possible if you put your mind to something and believe in yourself.

"Then you believe in your teamwork between each other. I know Tommy and Kev lent on each other quite a bit during seven years to achieve the dawn wall.

"It was such a strong message and a beautiful documentary that when they were in Australia it was nice to have them in."

The premiers' return to form against the Knights turns focus once more to their bid for back-to-back titles, the first in a unified competition since Brisbane in 1992-93.

But for Friend's injury the Tricolours are back to full strength, with Ryan Hall dropping out of Sunday's clash with Canterbury for Brett Morris to start on the wing and Sitili Tupouniua elevated to the bench.

Roosters back-rower Angus Crichton.
Roosters back-rower Angus Crichton. ©NRL Photos

Robinson conceded that "you can't replace Jake", and hinted at a more prominent role for rookie rake Sam Verrills to allow named No.9 Victor Radley his preferred position at lock.

"I can't imagine we'll go every single round [with Radley] playing 80 minutes," Robinson said.

"I think we know where Victor's best role is and we'll get him into that.

"You can't replace Jake. But the role of the team and what the hooker needs is very important. We know how we want to play around that 9.

"Victor has obviously done a role there many times and then you've also got Sam Verrills who plays a very particular 9 role. A very specialist type 9, who grew up playing that role."


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