Friend's redemption continues in PM's XIII - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Friend's redemption continues in PM's XIII

By Liam FitzGibbon 14/09/2011 06:34:11 PM Comments (0)

Jake Friend's remarkable redemption continued as the once-troubled Sydney Roosters hooker earned his first representative call-up for the Prime Minister's XIII side to face Papua New Guinea.

Friend on Wednesday capped a fine season by earning selection in Mal Meninga's side to face PNG in Lae on Sunday week as part of a three-day visit to the rugby league-mad country.

The side, to be captained by Parramatta veteran Nathan Hindmarsh, features some of the game's hottest attacking talent in Ben Barba, Michael Jennings and Nathan Merritt, as well as experienced heads including retiring veteran Preston Campbell and North Queensland ace Matt Bowen.

Friend's selection came just days after he was named Roosters' player of the year, having worked hard to turn his life around after he was stood down by the club in 2009 following a series of off-field indiscretions.

He is one of several former 'bad boys' within a squad that will also do its part for the PNG community in spreading important health and social messages.

Hindmarsh said he was honoured to lead the squad, predicting the trip would prove a special experience for some of the new faces.

"I think it is definitely an eye opener for guys who haven't been there before," said Hindmarsh, who has travelled several times to the country.

"Rugby league in Papua New Guinea is their national sport and they're mad for it there.

"... The thing for me is just seeing the joy rugby league can bring to some people. In Papua New Guinea, we bring a lot of joy to people up there.

"It's great the support when we get up there, so it's a sight to see."

With the exception of Bowen, the side comprises players from clubs that missed the NRL finals.

The fixture offers a final chance to push for Kangaroos selection in the Four Nations tournament in England and Hindmarsh expected several would force their way into that squad.

"It's a great side and I think we might see a few of those players on the Four Nations, I'm hoping we get a few in definitely," Hindmarsh said.

"They've used it as a selection trial before and I think it's just another way to keep them fit if there's players in that side."

Other notable selections included Canberra winger Blake Ferguson and South Sydney bolter Chris McQueen.

Friend's Sydney Roosters team-mates Mitchell Pearce and Nate Myles also received call-ups, as did Canterbury centre Josh Morris after a strong finish to the season with the Bulldogs.

Prime Minister's XIII: Matt Bowen, Blake Ferguson, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Nathan Merritt, Greg Bird, Mitchell Pearce, David Shillington, Jake Friend, Tim Mannah, Michael Crocker, Nathan Hindmarsh (capt), Nate Myles, Chris McQueen, Kade Snowden, Luke Douglas, Ben Barba, Preston Campbell.

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