The 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership season kicks off in less than a week, and Captain Jake Friend couldn’t be more ready to get going.
At the back end of what has been a long and diverse pre-season for the Club Captain, Friend watched on as the younger squad members took to the field in the Community Cup trial match against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and realised that this was the last hit-out before Round 1.
When asked about the start of the season, the Captain spoke about the team's pre-season path and how well everything has fallen into place.
“It’s come around quick this year, but I guess it always does.
“You come back after Christmas, rip into a bit of training and then it just comes straight at you.
“In saying that, training has been good and our pre-season has worked in our favour.
“The World Club Challenge happened at the right time and then a trial on the Central Coast that gave some younger guys an opportunity to play some big minutes.
“I’d say that our boys are just keen to get out there now.”
On the back of a Premiership victory in 2018, Friend experienced a different pre-season to what he’s used to in his 11th year at the Club.
He attended training camps in Queenstown, Los Angeles, France and Manchester throughout the pre-season, which also came with the perks of experiencing different cultures.
While the Captain was able to get through his usual load of hard work and experience some diversity, he was also able to enjoy the process along the way.
“It’s been a different pre-season, but it’s also been really good.
“We did some training in America, over in France and England.
“For me I found it refreshing to hear some different voices and go through some different styles of training in some different places.
“We know how quick the season comes around, so we haven’t missed a day or a beat since we returned to training in early Jan.
“There was a lot of training, but we also managed to have some fun along the way and were able to really enjoy it.
“In America we were able to enjoy that trip and have our good times, but we also have a group of guys that really know how to turn it on when it’s time to work.”
Friend was rested for the final trial match of the season, though there wasn’t a lot of rest involved.
The squad members that didn’t play against the Sea Eagles were treated to two intense training sessions on the Central Coast which will see them well prepared for Round 1 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“We had a really big week heading into the Central Coast match.
“The guys that didn’t play got into some really intense training and some pretty brutal sessions.
“We’ve gotten through this week and now we’ve got a few days off before everything starts again.”
The Roosters will take to their new home ground for Round 1 of the new season next Friday night.
While Friend is excited about facing the old rivals, he’s also aware of just how important the historic SCG is to the game of rugby league and can’t wait to take to the turf with his teammates.
“I think the excitement of such a big first clash with the Bunnies will hit us on the first day back at training.
“At the same time I think we’ll really delve into playing that first game at the SCG and how significant it is that it will be against the old rivals.
“It’s a game that we mark down and look forward to every year as a Club and will definitely be one the fans will enjoy with us too.”
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