Jake Friend has reportedly told Sydney Roosters teammates he is retiring from the NRL immediately as he responds to his latest concussion battle.
Friend has not played since he was left convulsing on the ground in the Roosters’ round-one win over Manly, prompting fears for his future.
The heavy head knock was his third such knock in the space of just over six months, with Friend having suffered several concussions throughout his career.
The 31-year-old has seen several specialists since the latest knocks three-and-a-half weeks ago, as they weighed up any path back to the NRL.
But with a meeting due early this week to discuss Friend’s future, the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting the decision has now been made with his closest friends told.
Friend has played 264 games for the Roosters, winning premierships in 2013, 2018 and 2019 – the last two coming as co-captain.
The Queenslander also achieved a lifelong goal of representing Queensland in State of Origin last year, and played a Test for Australia in 2016.
Weighing in at 92kg, Friend is renowned as one of the toughest players of his generation and has been a key part of Trent Robinson’s success as coach.
“We’re just here as mates, just trying to comfort him in the right way,” teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves said on Tuesday.
“He has a decision to make and he’ll make it in the way that he needs. For myself I’ve been with him for 10 years now.
“The position that he’s in is a tough one, he’s been a warrior for us at the Roosters and to go out not on his own terms is the disappointing part.”
His reported decision comes as fellow co-captain Boyd Cordner remains on his own comeback path from concussions, having suffered multiple head knocks last year.
James Tedesco has taken over as captain in recent weeks while Joey Lussick is the club’s short-term hooker, as Sam Verrills returns from his own injury.
The Roosters were unable to confirm Friend’s situation when contacted on Wednesday.
Jake Friend’s career stats
DOB: February 1, 1990
Debut: Sydney Roosters v Canterbury Bulldogs, 27 June 2008
Games: 264 for Roosters
Tests: 1 (2016)
Origins: 3 for Queensland (2020)
Premierships: 2013, 2018 and 2019
Awards: Roosters Player of the Year (2011, 2016)