Halberg top moments: The Friend flip

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

The Warriors 2015 NRL campaign ended in disappointment but Nathan Friend's extraordinary acrobatic effort against Melbourne Storm provided a rare highlight that drew global attention.

The diminutive hooker's back-flip between-the-legs pass helped set-up a memorable try for wing Tui Lolohea and sent fans, commentators, and complete strangers to the game, into raptures.

Normally considered one of the more industrious and less flamboyant members of the Warriors lineup, Friend surprised everyone when he leapt into the air to defuse a Chad Townsend bomb.

While claiming the ball in mid-air, Friend's lower body came into contact with the back of Storm defender Kenny Bromwich, which sent him tumbling perilously backwards towards the turf.

Somehow, while upside down, he managed to calmly deliver the ball between his legs and land safely, while an exchange between Sam Tomkins and Shaun Johnson stalled the defence and quick hands sent Lolohea in to score in the corner.

"I guess we were lucky it hit one of our guys," was Friend's typically low-key response. "It might not have been that fantastic if it was a runaway try!

"I went up for the ball, contested it and I was fortunate that all those days on the trampoline with my boys came good. That's fatherhood!

"I was worried about getting the ball away because I knew it was the last tackle. There was a lot to be done and it was lucky I threw it so Shauny."

Video of the backflip quickly went viral and American sports channel ESPN rated the feat good enough to place it top of its Plays of the Day segment, and the likes of Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report helped it reach worldwide audiences.

The Warriors moved quickly to produce a special one-off 'backflip jersey' autographed by Friend which sold on Trade Me for $3110, but the memory of the incident will live forever.

Kiwi sports fans can vote for their choice by text message (once per day) or online at www.sportingmoment.co.nz.

How to vote:


Voting is now open for the Radio Sport Sporting Moment award. You can vote once a day from now until 9.00pm on Thursday 18 February 2016.

1. Online
Vote at www.sportingmoment.co.nz

2. TXT
Text your Radio Sport Sporting Moment's unique code to 818:
1. Txt Sm1 to 818 to vote for SKYCITY Breakers
2. Txt Sm2 to 818 to vote for Grant Elliott
3. Txt Sm3 to 818 to vote for Kiwis
4. Txt Sm4 to 818 to vote for The Highlanders
5. Txt Sm5 to 818 to vote for Vodafone Warriors
6. Txt Sm6 to 818 to vote for Richie McCaw
7. Txt Sm7 to 818 to vote for Lydia Ko
8. Txt Sm8 to 818 to vote for All Blacks
9. Txt Sm9 to 818 to vote for Ross Taylor
10. Txt Sm10 to 818 to vote for Football Ferns
Standard text fees apply on all text votes.

Everyone who votes in the Radio Sport Sporting Moment Award before midnight on the 9 February, 2016 goes in the draw to win a trip for two including flights and accommodation to the 53rd Halberg Awards at Vector Arena, Auckland on Thursday 18 February 2016. Visit www.sportingmoment.co.nz to read the competition terms & conditions.

- NZ Herald

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