Roosters Head Coach Trent Robinson has paid tribute to Club Legend Jake Friend, who was immortalised on the Legend's Mural in Waverley, taking his place alongside Arthur Beetson, Brad Fittler, Anthony Minichiello and Boyd Cordner.
Ahead of his side's Round 11 match against the Brisbane Broncos, which will act as a chance for Roosters Members and supporters to Celebrate Jake, Robinson spoke fondly of the no.9's contribution to the Club over the past fourteen seasons.
“He was an incredible player and left a legacy at our Club that is undeniable,” he said.
“He won things which is an amazing part of the way he did things, but he played the game in a certain way that left a lot in the jersey for players that are going to continue to play.
“He was the greatest tackler that played in the Roosters jersey – if not our game. He did it over and over and over again for us. I think he averaged over 40 tackles per game over 260-odd games. That’s an achievement; he won Premierships as a captain and as a player.
“He’s a very special guy in the way he carried himself in between games, which is pretty important. He had a rough start but he built himself into a real man and into a real footy player while setting himself up outside.
Coaches Media: Round 11 - Broncos
“He’s a great story."
Sitting only behind Brad Fittler in games captained for the Club, Friend's leadership and inspiration for his teammates were both qualities that Robinson says held him in great stead in a 264-game career in the Red, White and Blue.
“He was the silent leader type," Robinson explained.
“He was the guy that led by example. He decided he wanted to play the game a certain way from a young age. He started doing that and he continued to do that.
“He was fiery, he was stubborn and he needed to be that way to play that position and play it in the style that he played it.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end for Jake, but he won’t be remembered by that, he’ll be remembered by the way he played.
“He decided to change his life at the end of 2009 and he worked his way through that over the next few years and he also decided to create a life for himself outside of footy while he was delivering on field.
It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end for Jake, but he won’t be remembered by that, he’ll be remembered by the way he played.Trent Robinson On Jake Friend's career
“It meant so much for him to wear that jersey and play with his teammates that he wanted to continue to push himself. He’s a great example for a young Rugby League player.”
With Saturday afternoon themed to Celebrate Jake, the Roosters' mentor believes is the perfect time for Friend to be immortalised and for his side to return to the hallowed SCG to play in front of the eastern suburbs faithful after three weeks on the road.
“We picked this game because of being at home at the SCG, and we love being back at home," he said.
“We liked being on the road over the past couple of weeks and spending some time together but getting back home and allowing everyone to celebrate Jake.
Friend Immortalised on the Club Legends' Mural
“We want to get people out there to watch us play at home but also to celebrate Jake and the end of his career.
“It’s an amazing mural and I know there are a few around but we’re really lucky to have a mural like this in the eastern suburbs.
“I get to drive past it as I live down the road and I drove past yesterday. They’ve got him smiling which is rare. It must’ve been after a game not during a game.
"You wear the jersey and the blood sweat and tears these guys put in, they deserve to be put on the wall."
“All those guys on this wall have captained our Club, and they’ve all left something in the jersey for us to be proud of and for us to continue on, it’s quite amazing."
More Celebrate Jake on Roosters.com.au