After weeks of deliberation, Sydney Roosters co-captain Jake Friend has announced his immediate retirement from the NRL due to concussion concerns.
The 31-year-old three-time premiership winner said he made the decision after extensive medical advice following a third concussion in less than six months.
Friend met with coaching staff and concussion experts this week, deciding to end his 264-game NRL career to protect his future health after suffering a heavy head knock in round one.
It was the last of more than 20 concussions throughout his playing career.
Incredible career for Jake Friend!
You'll be missed legend 🙌 pic.twitter.com/WcZHZrkilK
— NRL (@NRL) April 8, 2021
“For any player that stood alongside Jake Friend in his 264 games, I have no doubt that every single one of them would thank him for being a true teammate,” Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.
“Jake has been an incredible player and leader for the Roosters, and while I know that he won’t be comfortable with the accolades, it’s important we acknowledge his achievements over the years.
“Jake’s place in Roosters’ history is assured.
“He is a man of integrity, and his leadership has been a key driver of the club’s success.
“He has made those around him better and I’ve loved coaching him.”
Friend joined the Roosters at 15 when he was recruited by legend Arthur Beetson and has become one of the club’s favourite sons.
— Sydney Roosters 🐓 (@sydneyroosters) April 8, 2021
The one-club man is expected to take up an off-field role with the Roosters in retirement.
“I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the Roosters and rugby league,” he said.
Although it’s a medical retirement it’s understood the Roosters will not receive any salary cap dispensation from the NRL given Friend is in the final year of his contract.
As part of the NRL rules, clubs can apply for salary cap relief if a player is medically unable to continue playing, except when in the final year of their contract.
Friend signed a one-year deal with the Roosters last year after battling injuries across the past two seasons.
His long-term replacement has already been decided with Sam Verrills signed to the club until the end of 2024.