Injury thwarts key match-up in NRL clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Injury thwarts key match-up in NRL clash

By Robert Lowe 06/05/2011 01:23:48 PM Comments (0)

Injury to Gold Coast hooker Nathan Friend has put paid to what would have been an intriguing NRL match-up on Sunday.

The Titans host the New Zealand Warriors, whom Friend will join next year, but shoulder surgery means no head-to-head clash with Aaron Heremaia, the man he will replace at the Auckland-based club.

Heremaia has mixed feelings about Friend's absence this weekend.

He would have liked to have tangled with him but, at the same time, the Warriors' job of breaking their six-match losing streak against the Titans was made that little bit easier.

"I'm sort of disappointed, but he's one of their key players and for him not to be there is good for us," Heremaia said.

"But they definitely have other players who can step up to the mark, like Scotty Prince and obviously Preston Campbell, so it's going to be a tough task."

Friend, 30, made a late start to the season because of his shoulder problem.

He made his comeback in round four and last weekend became the first player to notch 100 appearances for the Titans in a 24-13 win over the Sydney Roosters.

He went in for what the club described as minor arthroscopic surgery this week, expected to sideline him for up to six weeks.

With Friend a noted 80-minute performer and youngster Alehana Mara the option as back-up dummy half, Heremaia accepts that his professional future lies elsewhere next year at a destination yet to be decided.

The Warriors head into the match sitting just outside the top eight and looking to build on a run of four wins in the past five rounds.

Coach Ivan Cleary will be sweating on his five players involved in Friday night's Anzac Test, although with the match at Skilled Park, they won't have the added issue of travel if they pull up unscathed.

The Titans are 11th, two points behind the Warriors.

They will have one player backing up from representative duty, with second rower Mark Minichiello taking part in Friday night's NSW City-Country Origin fixture in Albury.

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