Friend's jaw ready for NRL return
Thu, 28 Jun 2012 5:20a.m.
A training ground tackle has given workaholic Warriors hooker Nathan Friend the proof that he is ready to return to NRL action against North Queensland on Sunday.
Friend has been out since breaking his jaw early in the 30-20 win over Brisbane almost two months ago, a match he finished in spite of the pain, making 53 tackles and laying on two tries.
He says his first contact session with the teammates showed him he was on track for a comeback against the Cowboys in Auckland.
"I went out there and Stevie Rapira lifted his arm up and hit it right on the spot," he said on Wednesday.
"It shook my head a bit, but I pulled up great and I'm just happy to be out there and training full on."
Despite his lengthy spell on the sidelines, Friend has no doubts about his ability to come straight back and operate for his usual 80-minute stint.
The 31-year-old veteran of 144 first-grade appearances says his experience and the amount of work he put in while in the rehab group will help with that.
"I mightn't be at my peak for 80 minutes, I'll certainly be out there for 80."
Friend's absence coincided with the Warriors' two byes, which means he has missed only five matches.
During that period, he has watched the club win two and lose three to sit two points outside the top eight.
Two of the defeats were particularly galling because of the tight margins - 24-22 against Wests Tigers and 20-19 against Cronulla.
"They're probably worse than a 30-point drubbing, especially when you're in the position to win the game," Friend said.
But he also said the two narrow results hadn't led to heads dropping.
"I think it makes you stronger," he said.
"It certainly doesn't dampen the atmosphere around here. All the boys are in good spirits and I'm looking forward to a big showing this weekend."
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