Sydney Roosters cult hero Victor Radley says the premiers are a much better team when Jake Friend wears the No. 9 jersey – but loves the faith his teammates have shown him to get the job done while the co-captain recovers from a shoulder injury.
Friend missed last Saturday's win with a shoulder injury and lasted just 33 minutes before forced from the field against Parramatta on Friday night and looked in pain.
It remains to be seen if he will be fit with the six-day turnaround to the Broncos clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Chooks coach Trent Robinson said after the game: "You don't want to have a week off and then see that happen and not finish the game. He'll come back when he's right."
When Radley first burst on to the scene his loyal group of fans wanted to see him start ahead of Friend, even though he is more suited to lock forward or back row.
But the 21-year-old Rooster himself said: "We're such a better team when 'Friendy' is in the team. He's such an important player.
I love how everyone trusts me there [at hooker]. It's a good feeling to be trusted in that role.
"He was disappointed after the game. He doesn't know what it's about, he said it wasn't too painful, just really annoying and there was some nerve stuff going on.
"My role is to make sure my passes are out in front of the blokes who get the ball. With the players we've got in this team, I don't have to do anything tricky. I just have to give good service.
"The longer minutes is the hardest bit.
"But I love how everyone trusts me there. It's a good feeling to be trusted in that role. As soon as I'm shuffled in there, nobody second guesses you, and that makes you feel good.
"Most of the time it's working on defence. If I want to be out there for long minutes, when I get tired I can get a bit erratic [in defence].
"I was bloody tired when I played 80 last week. Hookers deserve all the raps because they play 80 minutes every week. No wonder Friendy has a sore shoulder.''
Radley had given not much thought to the Broncos and quipped: "I haven't thought about them. I don't watch much footy when I get home. I normally watch MAFS [Married At First Sight] or something."
Having his former housemate James Tedesco call for the ball made life easier, especially later in games when fatigue set in.
"He's a beast, when I'm in there every time he said my name I'd give him the ball and hRead More – Source