Friend has to back up attack on Manly - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Friend has to back up attack on Manly

By Wayne Heming 22/05/2009 05:48:34 PM Comments (0)

Gold Coast coach John Cartwright says his outspoken hooker Nathan Friend has to "aim up" after branding Sunday's NRL rivals Manly "cocky", "arrogant" and "disrespectful".

Friend incurred a costly one-week suspension last season which may have cost him the Titans Player of the Year award, after punching Manly prop Josh Perry in retaliation for an incident involving Titans team-mate Daniel Conn.

His broadside against the defending premiers on Thursday would normally bother a coach, paranoid that such comments could fire up the opposition.

But while clearly not endorsing his hooker's explosive sentiments, Cartwright backed Friend's right to speak his mind.

"Friendy speaks his mind and he felt that's how he was treated last year," said Cartwright, hoping to confirm Test prop Luke Bailey (calf) as a starter after training on Saturday.

"I'm not going to gag him if that's how he feels but he's put a bit of pressure on himself to aim up.

"As long as he can back-up what he says is all that matters.

"He said much the same stuff after the game against Manly last year so he's probably not saying anything he hasn't said."

Team-mate Ashley Harrison backed Friend.

"Nathan is pretty outspoken as well all know," said Harrison, one of the Titans best all season.

"He's just telling it as he sees it.

"He's playing great footy and I don't think a few comments in the paper during the week is going to change that much."

Harrison said he was happy with his own form.

"It's still early in the year and I'm still building," said Harrison, whose NRL resume includes stints with Brisbane, Souths and the Roosters.

"We're coming into an important part of the year and hopefully the best is still yet to come.

"The team is hanging in, we're still not playing our best footy and Manly seem to be coming good, so Sunday will be another test for us."

Harrison seemed to think prop Bailey, whose hard yards were missed in last weekend's derby defeat by the Broncos, would play after being named in the team.

"He'll have a run tomorrow on the track and if he gets through that, he'll play I'd say," he said.

"We want him there, he plays a lot of minutes and gets through a lot of work and having his experience is always a big plus.

"Just having Boof (Laffranchi) back is a massive advantage for us."

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