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The affable Jake Friend bristles a bit when he hears people saying his body might be starting to break down.

Two serious injuries in 2019 – a biceps tear and then forearm fracture – limited Friend to just six games. The durable No.9 had spent the previous 10 years playing 20 games or more so he found the extended sideline stint tough to cop.

Friend played his fifth game of the year in round 18 and then had 10 weeks away before making a 31-minute appearance in the heart-stopping grand final win over the Raiders – his third premiership with the Tricolours.

Obviously talk about players' longevity, especially forwards, intensifies when they hit 30. Friend celebrates that milestone birthday next February.

But that doesn’t mean he's ready to look at brochures about retirement properties.

"Obviously some might think that but it's the only injury I've had," Friend told

"It was a bicep (tear) and then a break where I had the pins in the bicep so very unlucky.

"The fact it was in one area is nothing to suggest that the rest of my body is breaking down.

"Biceps happen a lot in rugby league… and it's been 11 seasons and I get one injured bicep. There's been plenty of tackles on that bicep."

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Indeed, the nuggety Roosters hooker and co-captain has made 10,382 tackles in his 12 NRL seasons.

And he's champing at the bit to march on towards the 11K mark in 2020.

"Definitely, I feel good. The last CT scan (medical imaging) was the end of November and that was really positive," Friend said of his right arm.

"Everything looks good with the bone. I've been doing weights, had a wrestle twice last week, so everything is back to where it should be.

"Touch wood I'm done with things going wrong with my right arm.

"The only positive is that with the enforced rest, my body got a rest too."

That's why he feels so energised because of the lower physical burdens each week last season.

Jake Friend and Sam Verrills celebrate the 2019 premiership.
Jake Friend and Sam Verrills celebrate the 2019 premiership. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"I can't imagine it not being the case. It's pretty hard playing 24 games – it does take its toll. While it sucked watching the boys play, it did give my body a chance to recuperate a lot more," Friend said.

"I hope to see benefits from that next year, and hopefully a few more years after that."

So that clears up the other question of wanting to keep playing on after his current contract expires next October. He is already in talks with Roosters management.

The only other component to clear up for the new season is how he and Sam Verrills combine. They shared the No.9 role in the grand final.

The 20-year-old Avalon Bulldogs junior made his NRL debut in round six and played 14 games in Friend's absence.

"Obviously Sam went really well last year. So I'd say there'll be a spot for him in the 17 and we'll share that role," Friend said.

"It's not something I've really discussed with Robbo (coach Trent Robinson) yet but it will be a conversation we'll have to have. For me, if I am playing 60 minutes, or 50, or whatever it is, it's going to help me going forward."


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