Hooker racks up 100th game - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hooker racks up 100th game

27/04/2011 08:20:48 PM Comments (0)

They may have had their differences in the past, but it has not stopped Gold Coast boss Michael Searle paying tribute to Nathan Friend ahead of the departing hooker's 100th Titans match.

Friend, 30, will mark the milestone by leading the team out against the Sydney Roosters at Skilled Park on Saturday night.

Friend - who this month dropped the bombshell that he will leave for the Warriors next year on a three-season deal - reportedly has a "frosty" relationship with Searle.

But Searle still provided a warm appraisal of Friend as the dogged rake prepared to become the first Titan to crack the 100-game barrier.

"Nathan has been a big part of the club's achievements to date and his durability has been a tribute to his dedication and the professionalism of his preparation," Searle said.

"He came to the Gold Coast seeking an opportunity and has gone on to establish himself as a regular first grader and a great contributor for the Titans in our first five seasons."

Friend has not been afraid to publicly criticise Searle during his Titans stint.

In 2009, he slammed the club for chasing Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah only to sign a new two-year Titans deal after talks with the high-profile rakes broke down.

But he has done the bulk of his talking on the field - his form and worth ethic have ensured he has missed just seven games in five seasons with the Titans.

The Toowoomba product has played a total of 134 NRL games after making his debut at the Broncos in 2002 and spending four seasons with Melbourne as Smith's understudy.

Heading into this weekend's round, Friend is on 99 games for the Titans ahead of fellow inaugural players Mark Minichiello (94), Anthony Laffranchi (91), Scott Prince (89) and Preston Campbell (88).

"It's great, it felt like only yesterday we ran out onto Suncorp to play the mighty Dragons up there (Suncorp Stadium) in a sea of blue and yellow," Friend said.

"It's been four, nearly five great years.

"We've reached the semi-finals over the last couple of years so it's been very enjoyable.

"We need to pull our fingers out this year and finish on a good note."

The Titans are 13th with a disappointing 2-5 record.

While chuffed at Friend's achievement, Titans coach John Cartwright understandably did not have much time to reflect on the milestone due to his side's plight.

"It's a great achievement for both Friendy and the club," he said.

"He was part of our inaugural squad and has hardly missed a game since, which is testament to his hard work and consistency.

"(But) we just need to get back on the horse. Our form has been pretty patchy all year and we just need to get some consistency."

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