Roosters coach Trent Robinson says it was team captain Boyd Cordner's input that convinced him club captain Jake Friend needed to play in Sunday night's 14-8 grand final win over Canberra.
The nuggety hooker had played just five games all year - none since round 18, 67 total minutes since round seven and no 80-minute games since round one but was rushed into the action when Cooper Cronk was sin-binned with half an hour to play and helped control the side to a tense win.
But neither captain nor coach had any hesitation in bringing him in for the biggest game of the year, despite it also meaning a forward – in this case the luckless Zane Tetevano – had to miss out.
"It was such a good game from him," Robinson said.
"What he did when he came on, he came on when Coops went off and he just – it's a tough decision.
"Zane Tetevano has been a real key for us for two years and he is really key to us.
"But Jake Friend's our captain, Jake Friend typifies what we want."
Robinson said Cordner's input was similar to last season, when at Cordner's behest the massive call was made to bring in one-gamer Paul Momirovski for a suspended Latrell Mitchell in the grand final qualifier.
Momirovski starred, scoring a try in the 12-4 win over Souths to vindicate the decision.
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"I went to the best decision-maker that I've seen based on what is the position, what do we need, what does the team need, what's the emotion of the team," Robinson said.
"He won't just say, 'he's my mate I'd play him'. Boyd Cordner's the best guy you can ask about what's needed in a team, and Boyd said 'we're playing Nug'.
"And I knew we were playing Nug but when I asked Boyd, Boyd doesn't get enough credit.
"I end up having to make the decisions at the end but Paul Momirovski last year was [a result of] Boyd Cordner going 'I think Paul should play'.
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"He's the best decision-maker I've seen analysing a team, knowing the emotions, knowing who he wants to stand next to but what's actually needed. In the end, I went to some senior players but I always go to Boyd."
Cordner said Friend's qualities as a person and football player made it an easy decision.
"I just know who he is as a person," Cordner said.
"I've spent probably nearly half my life with him, coming into Roosters headquarters and seeing him. I know what he brings as a player, like Robbo said he is our captain.
"It was going to be tight. I knew Friendy would do a job for us when we needed to ice that game and close that game out. It was an easy decision I think for Robbo and the club but definitely for me, I love him, I know what he brings and I knew he'd stand and deliver and that's what he did."
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