The Sydney Roosters’ medical team have given livewire hooker Jake Friend the green light to oppose the Cowboys. Picture: GETTY IMAGESRUGBY LEAGUE
Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson is comfortable the club’s medical staff have done everything to ensure Jake Friend has fully recovered from a serious chest injury and can face North Queensland on Friday.
Friend suffered a life-threatening haemothorax following the Roosters’ win over Melbourne less than three weeks ago and had surgery to drain two litres of blood from the affected area.
But he has passed a barrage of tests and pulled up without any problems from a contact session on Wednesday, so Robinson has no issue with his decision to select him for the do-or-die semi-final clash at Allianz Stadium.
“It’s not a normal injury and it’s hard to know if it’s right or wrong,” Robinson said.
“But he’s proved himself enough this week and will be ready to go.
“He came through a contact session yesterday and all the physical markers are there.”
Friend returned to training last week and wanted to play against Penrith, only to be held back by Robinson and his medical team.
“Friendy has been hounding us since even before the last game,” he said.
“He’s not asking the question, he’s telling us. We’ve done lots of scans and tests to make sure his blood levels are up, given the amount he lost.
“Plus we’ve also looked at all the cartilage in that area to make sure that’s all repaired and he’s passed everything.
“He wanted to play the last game, but I didn’t think it was right. Everything that we have done is right. The medical team have taken a cautious approach.”
The Cowboys arrived in Sydney on Thursday and will revisit the venue where their finals campaign has ended in the past three years.
They were left fuming in 2012 and 2013 after being on the receiving end of two poor refereeing decisions against Manly and Cronulla.
Coach Paul Green was a part of Robinson’s back-room team that helped the club win last year’s premiership and his former boss was critical of some comments coming out of Townsville in the lead-up to the game.
Robinson was particularly upset by the front page of the Townsville Bulletin which depicted retiring Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello as a chicken.
He also challenged Green’s decision to question the NRL judiciary after the club accepted Tariq Sims’ five-game suspension for a shoulder charge – a move that cost him a $10,000 fine.
“I don’t know why Paul did it, but it was his choice. It was a shoulder charge,” Robinson said.
“If it was three weeks, four weeks or five weeks, it was always going to get charged.
“There has been a bit of talk about disrespect in the last week … they are building it up there, they are having a go at ‘Mini’.
“They have him as a chook on the front page of the paper … a guy who has played 300 games and is about to retire.
“They have definitely tried to build it up there. But they are coming down to Sydney – we’re ready for them.” – AAP
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