Friend ups minutes for herculean Roosters

Scott Bailey
Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend appears set to increase his NRL workload again

Jake Friend is ready to return to being an 80-minute player as the Sydney Roosters pick up the pieces from their injury-riddled NRL win over St George Illawarra.

The Roosters returned to training on Sunday, minus Victor Radley and Sam Verrills, whose seasons have both been ended by knee injuries.

Isaac Liu - who would normally have filled Radley's role as lock - is out indefinitely with broken ribs and will miss Thursday's clash with Melbourne.

The two-time defending champions are already scheming how to fill the gaps for the Suncorp Stadium clash against the Storm and beyond.

Friend, who consistently did not get rested during games through his career, has spent brief periods on the bench in some games this year to give Verrills valuable minutes.

At age 30 and after missing most of 2019 through injury, Friend said he felt as fit as he was in previous years to get through the extra work.

"I'm feeling fit and strong," Friend said.

"It probably benefited me (the time off) in some areas where I wasn't able to get the training in that I could.

"I enjoy playing 80, I prefer to play 80.

"But obviously we have Sammy here and he has been playing really good.

"I will just look after my body and make sure I am ready to punch out 80 for as long as I have to.

"I'm looking forward to whatever role I have to play, but I am happy to play 80 minutes."

Nat Butcher will likely step in to cover Radley's absence after battling his own rib injuries, while Poasa Faamausili has been recalled from his Warriors loan.

Friday night's win over the Dragons epitomised the Roosters' spirit and they remain favoured to complete a title three-peat despite the injury blows.

Sio Siua Taukeiaho played 80 minutes unchanged, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves got through 72.

Few front-rowers in the competition can get through a whole game so regularly and with such gusto but the Roosters have two of them.

"When Verrills went down, we sort of had a moment there," Waerea-Hagreaves said.

"You look at each other and you have that instant connection there of let's go, let's grow and let's enjoy being out here.

"We know we can play minutes. When you're needed from your team, you just have to do what you've got to do."