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Even Nick didn't know: Friend kept quiet on shock GF return

Roosters club captain Jake Friend says he feels bad about keeping his grand final inclusion secret from a host of well-wishers including his partner and mother – but had little choice given even club supremo Nick Politis didn't know.

Friend also expressed his regret that his appearance came at the expense of teammates like Zane Tetevano and Lindsay Collins.

He knew he would be in Trent Robinson's 17 once he got through Friday's training session but with his phone lighting up all week with mates after a scoop, had to keep things very quiet.

"I didn't tell mum, didn't tell the missus," Friend said after claiming his third premiership ring.

"Had mates messaging me. I brushed everyone … Trent didn't tell Nick so if Nick doesn't know I can't tell anyone!

"I didn't write back to a lot of people but I had plenty of well-wishers and I'll spend the next – maybe not [Monday] but a few days after – getting back to everyone that wished me luck.

"There were plenty of questions but I brushed them all."

Friend had no fear of reinjuring his calf

Friend said he was very close to featuring in the preliminary final against the Storm but ruled himself out.

"We were pretty close last week but Trent and I had a chat and decided that the game was too big to risk a sub or being an injury," he added.

"We went that way, I did what I had to do this week. I'm stoked to have the spot in the team but I feel for guys like Lindsay and Zano who I've watched from the sidelines through injury bust their backsides for this team.

"They're the reason we're here. I came in and had to play my part but some guys missed out. I definitely feel for them. I'll get to them this week and buy them a couple of beers and I'm sure we'll have a good chat."

It was a deeply frustrating season for Friend, who generally is among the top tacklers of every NRL season but was restricted to six games – and even most of those were restricted by injury.

"It's been a bit different to last [season]. I'm really thankful to be able to play my little part in the last game," he said.

"Disappointing year with injury for me, obviously I wanted to play more footy but I thought the footy I played, I was happy with the games I had but I just couldn't get any rhythm with injury and Sammy [Verrills] stepped up.

"I'm looking forward to a break. Rehab's worse than training, you just get flogged all week. It got me through that 30 minutes [in the grand final]. I'm stoked to be able to play tonight and be a part of a pretty special group and an awesome club and a pretty special part of Roosters and NRL history."

Fans crave more success as Roosters players celebrate

Friend also had plenty of praise for the young hooker Verrills, whose impressive form was a big part of why the Roosters made the grand final despite losing their senior rake to injury for most of the year.

"Sammy, to come in the young kid, he was with Norths at the start of the year and Rads [Victor Radley] did his part but then Sammy stepped in," Friend said.

"He's only got better as the year went on. The first try [of the grand final], it was pretty cool to see him get that. He's worked hard, everyone loves him at the club, he's a good kid.

"I'm sure this won't be his last grand final, he's a pretty special player and I'm sure he'll be around this club for a long time. I'm happy if me and Sammy can share the role there [moving forward]."

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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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