Titans kiss and make up with Friend - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Titans kiss and make up with Friend

08/04/2009 05:07:49 PM Comments (0)

In-form hooker Nathan Friend says he's "stoked" to have signed a fresh two-year deal with the Gold Coast Titans, which puts an end to eight months of negotiations.

The 28-year-old rake is guaranteed on the tourist strip until the end of the 2011 season and likely to end his NRL career there after re-signing.

It's a major turnaround for Friend, who was on the look-out for a new club earlier this year after salary discussions fell through.

But on Tuesday, after months of fruitless talks, the timely departure of prop Ian Donnelly to Cronulla - and the subsequent space in the salary cap - was all the club needed to start again.

Coach John Cartwright immediately organised a meeting with Friend and the two-year contract was drawn up and signed just hours later.

The deal is rumoured to be worth between $190,000 and $250,000 a season.

"It's fantastic," said Friend, who has starred for the Titans in their three wins from four matches so far this season.

"Carty (Coach John Cartwright) spoke to me yesterday and got the ball rolling and as we said, it was tied up in 12 hours, so I'm very happy."

The contract is a welcome relief for both club and player, whose break-up threatened to turn as messy as it was lengthy.

In January, Friend publicly criticised the club for choosing to court potential replacements in Melbourne's Cameron Smith and Tigers rake Robbie Farah during negotiations.

Friend claimed the Titans had offered Smith more than double what he was asking.

But despite all the angst, Friend denies he's lost any sleep.

"It's been a long process but there hasn't been too much of a load on my shoulders as proven by my football," he said.

"The wife shoulders all the stress for myself, so I can go out and play footy, so it's been pretty easy.

"I knew if I could play some decent footy, that stuff takes care of itself."

Cartwright said there was never any question of wanting to keep Friend on the Gold Coast, it was just a matter of figuring out the particulars.

He said Friend's improved performance on the field in the last month had made no difference to the club's desire to keep him.

"We were all at a stage where we were sick of reading about it in the paper, it had to come to a head one way or the other.

"Nathan's manager wanted a figure, we were at a figure, and we've been able to sort it out a little bit more, that's all.

"Nathan was always the guy I wanted to keep here."

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