The Sydney Roosters have officially farewelled champion hooker Jake Friend, who was given a standing ovation in front of fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Friend, 31, was forced to retire earlier in the season following a string of repeated head knocks. He suffered his third concussion in the space of just six matches back in round one.
In all, Friend went on to play 264 NRL games with the Roosters and was part of three premiership-winning squads with the club, in 2013, 2018 and 2019.
The champion Roosters hooker spoke shortly after his farewell and admitted he was taken back by the show of support from fans and teammates.
“It’s really humbling. I don’t particularly like all the attention,” he said of the guard of honour before the Roosters’ clash against the Broncos.
“I’ve got a lot of family and friends here and it’s great to share this moment with them, and then sit back and watch the boys go about their business.”
Friend walked out with his newborn child in arms in what was clearly a special moment for the NRL veteran.
The Eastern Suburbs club dedicated the game to the Queenslander, using the hashtag #CelebrateJake on their social media.
“These are the times it hits you, really emotional scenes for him,” Broncos great Corey Parker told Fox League.
“Jake Friend, he’s done everything in the game of rugby league. That’s a special moment there, friends and family, loved ones. He’s given so much to this club.”
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