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Jake Friend is ready to rip into one of the toughest pre-seasons of his NRL career.

The new six-again rule introduced during 2020 season made the game faster, and additional new rules will be introduced in 2021 to make the game more free-flowing.

The Roosters co-captain is expecting a tough pre-season to get the squad ready for 2021, but is ready to rip in after returning to training after the Christmas break.   

“They are tough, but this time of the year sets your season up and that is the driving factor for me,” Friend said.

If I don’t put the work in now, it will be tough to finish off the season.

Jake Friend Roosters Captain

“This year there is going to be some rule changes so the game is going to get harder and possibly (have) a few more plays in the game, so I’d say this pre-season will probably be one of the hardest.”

The Roosters co-captain has returned for pre-season training after taking a well-earned rest before Christmas. After his season finished with the Roosters, Friend joined the Queensland camp and helped the Maroons pull off an unlikely State of Origin win.

“It was something I wanted to do my whole life,” Friend reflected on playing for Queensland.

“The earliest I remember watching Origin was when I was 8 or 9 and always loved the game and the series. To be able to win the series when everyone was writing us off was pretty special.”

After State of Origin wrapped up in mid-November, Friend used his break to spend quality time with loved ones. Being in the Roosters bubble and then going straight into the Queensland bubble, Friend was limited with what he could do outside training and playing for most of 2020.

“It was really good to get a bit of a break. It was a long year being in the bubble and then putting Origin on the back of that, so I was pretty excited to have a rest and kick back,” Friend said.

“I spent a few weeks here, and then myself and my fiancée just beat the border closure to Queensland and got up to Noosa.

“Once all the COVID stuff happened here for Christmas, we ended up staying there for another week. We got a 2 and a bit weeks up in Noosa and saw the family, got some sun, and kicked back.”

Friend also got on the tools to help his plumbing business Friendly Plumbing during his break, but the fourth most-capped Rooster in Club history is excited to put down the shovel and start training with the squad.

“I haven’t been that busy and trying to relax as much as I can, but my business partner has been trying to get me out to jobs and give me a shovel here and there,” Friend said.

“I’ve helped him where I can but I’ve had plenty of excuses to not go dig holes for him too.

“It has been going good so I have been focusing on that in the break, but I’m really excited to be back at training and back around the boys.

“It’s sort of strange when you don’t see them before Christmas. You come back in and they’ve all been training and around each other, so you’ve got a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out).”