Australia Sydney Roosters stalwart Jake Friend retires from NRL because of concussion concerns
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Sydney Roosters co-captain Jake Friend has announced his retirement from the NRL effective immediately, following medical advice about the effects of concussion.
Friend, a three-time premiership winner with the Roosters, said he made the decision in the wake of suffering a third concussion in less than six months.
The 31-year-old met with coaching staff and concussion experts this week and decided to end his 264-match NRL career to protect his future health after suffering a heavy head knock in the Roosters' round-one match against Manly.
It was the last of more than 20 concussions he sustained throughout his playing career.
Sydney Roosters legend Jake Friend officially announces retirement after 264 NRL games
Sydney Roosters captain Jake Friend has officially announced his retirement from rugby league, following a stellar career that will see him go down as a club legend. The 31-year old has been out since the first round of the season, where he suffered a nasty concussion and has not returned due to his history with head injuries. After consultation with specialists and club doctors, Friend has now made the difficult decision to hang up the boots immediately after 264 NRL games. “I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the Roosters and rugby league,” said Friend.
"It wasn't an easy decision to make but it is one that I think is right and is right for myself, my family and the Roosters," Friend said.
"It has been a hell of a ride but it is a tough way to go out. That's footy and that's life."
Friend paid tribute to Trent Robinson, having played under the Roosters coach in the club's grand final victories in 2013, 2018 and 2019.
"Trent is the best coach I've ever had, and I'm a better player and man for the last 11 years I've known him," he said.
Robinson said Friend deserved to be regarded as a Roosters great.
"Jake has been an incredible player and leader for the Roosters, and while I know that he won't be comfortable with the accolades, it's important we acknowledge his achievements over the years," he said.
Trent Robinson hits out at 'paranoia' surrounding Sydney Roosters amid ongoing concussion debate
Trent Robinson has hit out at the 'paranoia' surrounding the Sydney Roosters and concussion injuries, amid the ongoing debate across the game. After the NRL introduced an 18th man substitute for head injuries this week, there has been plenty said by many within rugby league. Phil Gould accused the NRL of being 'over-cautious', while Nathan Brown questioned why the substitute needs three failed HIAs to be activated and what the 'emerging player' means.
"Jake's place in Roosters' history is assured. He is a man of integrity, and his leadership has been a key driver of the club's success.
"He has made those around him better and I've loved coaching him."
Although it is a medical retirement, it is understood the Roosters will not receive any salary cap dispensation from the NRL because Friend was in the final year of his contract.
As part of NRL rules, clubs can apply for salary cap relief if a player is medically unable to continue playing, except when in the final year of their contract.
Friend, who joined the Roosters at age 15 when he was recruited by the late Arthur Beetson, made his NRL debut in 2008.
His career was not without controversy, as he was sacked in late 2009 because of a series of alcohol-related incidents, before being reinstated to the Roosters' player roster the following year.
Friend made three State of Origin appearances for Queensland last year and played a Test for Australia in 2016.
He was twice named the Roosters' player of the year (2011, 2016).
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