With constant talk of turmoil at the Roosters club, Roosters hooker Jake Friend has denied that the club is in strife – as well as paying homage to coach Brian Smith, for the faith that he has shown in him, as a young player.
Friend, 22, has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons a few times in his career, with the young hooker sacked for 6 months, before being reinstated by the club, following a stint at a cafe – an experience that Friend says opened up his eyes about life in general.
“Being out of the game as I was made me realise how lucky I am to play footy for a living,” Friend said.
“It makes me hungry to go around, and I know I have to keep my head on and make sure I’m not in the papers for the wrong reasons. That is definitely somewhere I don’t want to go.
“From the start Smithy was always behind me. He said when they sacked me, if I do the right thing he’d have me back and he’s always been there for me and I owe him and the club lot.”
With his career hanging in the balance, it was a combination of his court case several years back, as well as the terse words from Smith about his actions, that made Friend re-evaluate his life.
“I think I’ve matured a lot as a person over the last few years,” he said.
“All the bad that happened to me I guess has been good as I’ve had to change and grow up fast.”
With continual insinuations and rumours that Smith is on the outer with certain players at the club, Friend says that this is not the case, and that there has been no tense moments between coach and players.
“Everyone’s positive in the camp, you have to be when you are in our position,” he said.
“We’re all working hard and trying to make that eight and we’re all behind the coach.”