League: Veteran hooker will stay among Warrior friends for another year

By Michael Burgess

Nathan Friend.
Nathan Friend.

The Warriors have put their faith in Nathan Friend for another year, re-signing the evergreen hooker until the end of the 2015 season.

The move will raise a few eyebrows - Friend will be 34 at the start of next season - but he is the ultimate professional and has been one of the most impressive performers this campaign.

It's a turnaround for the popular Queenslander. For long periods of last season it looked like he would be moving on - the club chose not to take up a contract option and allowed him to negotiate with other teams - before they found room in the salary cap at the last minute.

Now Friend, who made his NRL debut with Brisbane in 2002, will extend his Warriors career into a fourth season.

"The family's very settled so it's great to know I'll be having a fourth year here," said Friend.

"I'm feeling the best I have for the last couple of years. As long as the team is performing well around me I'm happy to keep chugging along."

Friend will probably play fewer minutes than he has in the past - especially next season as Siliva Havili is given more game time - but is seen as a valuable member of the squad.

"[Nathan] provides so much with his all-round professionalism, an exceptional trainer and someone who demands the highest standards from all those around him," says coach Andrew McFadden

"With his experience he's also a real asset for the younger players, especially for a hooker like Siliva as he looks to develop into a regular first-grade player."

The announcement will also come as a relief to Warriors owner Eric Watson, after a gaffe on Twitter last month. Replying to a fan's question Watson said Friend was signed "until the end of 2015". Friend joined the conversation later, stating "I'm currently on my last year, but would love to continue if [given] the option."

Again leading the Warriors' tackling statistics this season, Friend has made an average of 46 tackles a game in his 47 appearances for the club.

- NZ Herald

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