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Sydney Roosters legend Jake Friend officially announces retirement after 264 NRL games

Sporting News logo Sporting News 8/04/2021 Liam O'Loughlin

Sydney Roosters captain Jake Friend has officially announced his retirement from rugby league, following a stellar career that will see him go down as a club legend.

The 31-year old has been out since the first round of the season, where he suffered a nasty concussion and has not returned due to his history with head injuries. 

After consultation with specialists and club doctors, Friend has now made the difficult decision to hang up the boots immediately after 264 NRL games.

“I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the Roosters and rugby league,” said Friend.

"I was 15 when I joined the Roosters and have loved every minute of the journey. 

“There are so many people who have played an important role in my career, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all.

“I can’t thank the Roosters staff enough, especially Cathy King, Craig Fitzgibbon, Travis Touma, my teammates Mitch Aubusson, my roomie Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and my manager Steve Gillis who have been on this journey with me since day one. 

“I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all the sponsors, members and supporters of this great club.

“I’m proud to be able to say that I was recruited to the Roosters by Arthur Beetson and I’ll always be grateful for the day I met him. I wouldn’t be here without him.

“To our Chairman Nick Politis and our Board of Directors, thank you for all your support. Nick, to you especially. The Roosters are so lucky to have had you leading the way for over 40 years now, and I thank you and the board for taking the chance on me all those years ago.

“I also want to make a special mention of Trent Robinson. Trent is the best coach I’ve ever had, and I’m a better player and man for the last 11 years I’ve known him. To our coaching and support staff, thank you for setting the bar every day.

“I’ve played with some pretty special people here at the Roosters over the years, many I’m proud to call my closest friends, and I’d like to thank them. To my current teammates, it’s been an honour to play alongside you and to be your captain.

“Most importantly, I would like to thank my family; my mum, dad, brothers Zach and Sam, for all their support.

“To the two most important people in the world to me, my partner Jenna and our little boy Peter, I love you and I can’t wait to spend some more time with you."

Roosters coach Trent Robinson had some heartfelt words to say about the departing club hero.

“For any player that stood alongside Jake Friend in his 264 games, I have no doubt that every single one of them would thank him for being a true teammate," Robinson said. 

“Jake has been an incredible player and leader for the Roosters, and while I know that he won’t be comfortable with the accolades, it’s important we acknowledge his achievements over the years.

“Jake’s place in Roosters’ history is assured. He is a man of integrity, and his leadership has been a key driver of the Club’s success. He has made those around him better and I’ve loved coaching him."

Friend debuted in 2008 with the Bondi outfit, before being sensationally sacked by the club in 2009.

He was later reinstated, with the hooker going on to play in the 2010 grand final defeat to the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Friend would get his first taste of premiership glory three years later, when the Tricolours defeated Manly in the 2013 decider.

The workhorse continued to be one of the Roosters' most consistent players, and was rewarded with a sole cap for the Kangaroos back in 2016.

Friend would go on to become captain of the club - an honour held by some true legends of the sport - and was a major part of their 2018 premiership success.

In 2019, he won his third premiership with the Roosters when he returned from a long-term injury, coming off the bench in the side's victory over the Raiders.

Perhaps his crowning achievement came at the end of 2020, where after years of missing out on an Origin jumper, was selected at hooker for all three games for QLD as they defeated NSW 2-1 in the series.

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