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Friend will have to make do with one-off finals tune-up

Hooker and co-captain Jake Friend is going flat out to get one club game under his belt before the Roosters begin their 2019 finals campaign.

Friend is targeting the round 25 match against neighbouring arch rivals South Sydney at ANZ Stadium, after fracturing his radius (forearm bone) in the round 18 win over the Knights.

"So that’s six-and-a-half weeks and they say it’s six to eight for a break," Friend said.

"So we’re doing everything we can to get that to happen. If it’s not that week, it will be the weekend after."

Not that it bothers him greatly if he is forced to make his comeback in the first week of finals, as the 29-year-old has plenty of experience. But it would be a body and mind comforter.

"Ideally if I could get a match – even just for 50 minutes – mainly to get some rhythm back into me instead of coming straight back into a final. Your timing and that sort of thing comes with playing," he said.

"I’m not worried if I have to be straight into a finals match then it is what it is. I’ll do my best to get through with the lungs … I’ve done it enough times to know what’s coming.

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"But Souths is a good match to lead into the finals. I’m a pretty firm believer in tough matches before the finals. I think it sets you up for a good finals series if you can have a good couple of tough games, some tough wins at the back end of the year.

"Then you roll into the finals with that confidence knowing you can go the distance with the good teams."

Someone hoping to roll back into the Roosters side this weekend against the Warriors is co-captain Boyd Cordner, who has missed the past two games with a strained calf. He was named on Trent Robinson's extended bench on Tuesday.

"I'm pretty confident I'll be okay for this week. Soft-tissue injuries can be a bit temperamental, especially at this time of year. You don't want any setbacks," Cordner said.

"I'll get through a full week of training this week and if all goes well hopefully I'll be able to run out here [SCG] on Sunday."

With the Roosters nestling safely in the top-four, why the rush to return? And Cooper Cronk is doing a fine job as captain in the absence of both Cordner and Friend.

"I don't think there's any rush but at the same time I don't want another week off if I'm fully fit to play," the NSW skipper said.

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"That's what I'm here to do, to play rugby league, and I don't see the benefit of not playing out there with the team if I'm 100 per cent okay this week.

"I can understand if the club and medical staff are probably erring on the side of caution. If I'm okay to play I will and if I'm not I won't push it."

Whoever takes the field for the Roosters will be wearing jerseys with the names of the club's NRLW 2018 side – last year's grand finalists – on the front.

"It’s an awesome thing. The last two years we’ve had family members and what-not on there but Steggles (Roosters jersey sponsor) have gone with the inaugural women’s team which is great for the girls," Friend said.

"They were almost there last year. They’re back into pre-season now and there’s a few new faces and they are looking very good again.

"I know they’re planning to go one step further and the whole boys’ team is right behind them."

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Cordner will have NSW Origin-winning prop Vanessa Foliaki's name on his jersey.

"She probably tackles harder than me. I've seen her play a few times," he said.

"It's a really good initiative taken by Steggles and the Roosters. Normally it's a name of our choice and for a mum or a partner or sister.

"It's fitting we represent the women in league and especially at the Roosters given they have paved the way for the girls and the campaign they had last year."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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