After playing a leading role for the Queensland Maroons throughout the 2020 series, the outstanding effort of Jake Friend has been officially acknowledged by the Maroons inner sanctum.
Coach Wayne Bennett today announced Friend is the recipient of the Ron McAuliffe Medal for players' player.
Bennett said, at the beginning of the series, he could not believe Friend was yet to play for Queensland.
“He’s made for State of Origin, as he proved across the three games," Bennett said.
“His leadership on and off the field was invaluable for us, and I thought his performance in Game I was right up there in terms of the great Origin debuts.
“I’m just really proud of him and glad he finally got this opportunity. I’m also really pleased his efforts have been recognised by his teammates. He’s a deserved recipient of the Ron McAuliffe Medal.”
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Friend, 30, said it was "pretty cool" to be acknowledged by his team mates.
"I didn’t expect it," Friend said, adding "but the award that you want is the one from team mates".
"It’s very humbling. I’ve always wanted to play Origin but to then have your peers vote you as player of the series is pretty cool. It’s something that I will cherish forever."
Friend said the Origin bubble helped foster a tight-knit group who ultimately got the job done for Queensland.
"It was just a good crew... no egos. Everyone just got along and got the job done, which was the best thing," Friend said.
"There were a lot of young guys who will probably be in a Maroons jersey for a long time. It was everything that I thought it would be."
Friend said the highlight for him was the decider at Suncorp.
"You dream about playing there as a kid. Listening to the anthem, standing there at Suncorp with 50,000 was pretty cool," Friend said.
The Sydney Roosters would like to congratulate Captain Jake Friend for this fantastic achievement.