Date: May 12 2012
WHILE rugby league was in awe of the raw courage of Warriors hooker Nathan Friend, who battled through 65 minutes of football last weekend with a broken jaw, two of the most important people in his life had no clue what he had been going through.
Friend's parents had been fishing in the far reaches of northern Queensland last week, and did not hear of their son's injury in the Warriors' 30-20 victory over the Broncos last Saturday until Thursday.
''Mum and dad didn't find out until probably yesterday,'' Friend said in the Warriors gym at Mt Smart Stadium yesterday.
''They are up the Cape [York] fishing at the moment, so their only contact is a mobile, which they only have on about half an hour a day, so they had no idea what was going on.
''But I dare say, mum, if she was watching the game, she would have been straight on the buzzer.''
Fair enough, too. Staying out on the pitch was a display of true guts by the 31-year-old, who was asked by Warriors staff if he wanted to leave the field throughout the game.
The injury occurred around 15 minutes into the clash when Friend attempted to tackle second-rower Corey Parker. Friend first thought he had lost a tooth, but as the minutes ticked on, it became apparent the injury was far worse.
Worried it might be his last time on the pitch for a while, and cleared by Warriors doctor John Mayhew at half-time, the hooker decided to tough out the whole encounter.
His courageous performance, which will see him spend up to eight weeks on the sidelines, has earned praise from coaching staff and teammates.
''I've never had a facial injury like this. I've had a few stitches but I wasn't quite sure of how long I would have been on the sidelines for and thought it might have been my last game,'' Friend said.
''Seeing the doc at half-time, he said, 'It's up to you, everything seems structurally OK.' I did have the headgear on, so I think that was holding it all in place.
''I thought: 'Oh well, I'll go out and see how I go. If I get another knock that feels really bad, then I'll come off' … I got a few knocks that did hurt a little, but you know … ''
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney said Friend's performance topped that of legendary South Sydney prop John Sattler, who famously played just over half the 1970 grand final against Manly with a broken jaw.
Friend was humbled by the comparison. ''That's like comparing Phar Lap with Black Caviar; two great horses but you can't put them into different areas,'' he said.
This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.
[ Canberra Times | Text-only index]