Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

NRL: Kearney would be a good fit - Friend

Nathan Friend. Photo / Getty Images
Nathan Friend. Photo / Getty Images

Nathan Friend has played alongside and for Stephen Kearney and says he would be an excellent addition to the Warriors - particularly on defence, a major concern for the club.

Hooker Friend played with Kearney at the Melbourne Storm before the current Kiwis coach took on an assistant coaching role at the club.

Friend, who will on Wednesday see a specialist about his shoulder which he dislocated during the 18-16 defeat to the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart yesterday, said Kearney's defensive expertise in particular would boost a team which has gone six games without a victory.

"He's very good in terms of structure and a lot of the guys over here have played under him at the Kiwis and they really enjoy what he brings to the table, so if he was to have some role at the club I'd more than welcome it,'' Friend said of Kearney, who was recently sacked from the Parramatta Eels but is now in the frame at the Warriors as Brian

McClennan continues to struggle in his first season in charge.

Friend added that McClennan should still be involved, with a partnership the ideal solution. "If they work in tandem I'm sure we'll be heading in the right direction for next year.''

The Warriors looked on course to break their losing streak against the Panthers before yet another defensive blunder allowed Travis Robinson to score a converted try three minutes from time for the victory.

"I don't think our attack is lacking,'' said 31-year-old Friend, who joined the Warriors at the start of the season after stints in the NRL with Brisbane, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

"We've just got to tighten up or find a defensive structure that suits the guys over here and their style. We've got a little while to work on that now. Everyone needs to know what their role is. Once we can do that under fatigue through the off-season, come game time we'll be much better prepared for next year.''

Friend's shoulder injury will spare him the final two matches of the season against the Dragons in Wollongong and Raiders in Auckland - regardless of whether he needs surgery or not.

He said he had no regrets about moving from the Titans, despite the fact that his former club remain in the mix for the playoffs, whereas the Warriors, grand finalists last year, are fighting to avoid the wooden spoon.

Adding to his frustrating year is the fact that his season-ending injury follows an earlier broken jaw.

"I guess that's why they say the life of a footballer might only be three or four years because anything can happen. I was fortunate that I did only miss five games with my broken jaw and when I came back I thought I'd finish out the season ... but I guess you have to look at the positives. If I do have to have surgery I'll be back for round one that's for sure.

"Personally it's been a great experience for me. I'm glad I made the move. We've all had a season together now and I'm looking forward to a good off-season with the guys ... and try to rectify where we're falling down at the moment.''

- APNZ

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