Friend’s fears for life after footy
Roosters co-captain Jake Friend has spoken passionately about his fears that concussion could impact his life once he retires from football.
In the wake of Andrew Johns shedding new light on the issue by revealing his epilepsy diagnosis could be a result of playing with concussions, Friend has conceded what players have previously been reluctant to admit.
"It does (scare me),'' Friend said of potential brain injury as a result of concussion.
"It's a scary thing - and it's a bit of an unknown.
"We've seen in the NFL, the stuff that has happened over there.''
Averaging 42.5 tackles per game in 2018, Friend made more tackles than any other Roosters player last year.
The 29-year-old was unable to finish a match in round seven last season against Canterbury due to concussion.
He needed to pass the NRL's mandatory testing the next week so he could play in the Roosters' Anzac Day clash with St George Illawarra.
Friend said he welcomed the increased policing and Head Injury Assessment (HIA) that the NRL have introduced.
"For me, it's something I'm wary of as a player and I think each individual player has a responsibility to themselves (to make the right decisions), as well as the clubs and the NRL, which are putting all the right things in place,'' Friend said.
"From when I started (to now), it's (the NRL) a lot more stringent with the testing and HIA. There was none of that (when I started) nine years ago.
"I guess it is scary because its (testing and HIA) has only come in and you never know what the effects have already done.
"I also think everyone is different as well - you don't know how serious each individual head knock has been or other factors away from footy are a part of that.''
Friend said he had undergone regular cognitive testing, which gave him the confidence to continue playing the game he loves.
Having been beaten in round one by the Rabbitohs, Friend said the Roosters were intent on securing their first win of the season against Manly at Brookvale Oval on Saturday.
He ruled out any suggestion of a hangover from a taxing trip to the UK for the World Club Challenge last month.
"I don't think energy was the issue for us - it was in the sense that we did so much defence,'' Friend said.
"But as a team there was no one out there that wasn't up.
"It was just that we made it so hard for ourselves with turning the ball over and silly errors.''