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Noosa hooker gets praise from a Blues legend

RUGGED: Jake Friend of the Roosters during a clash with the Titans this season.
RUGGED: Jake Friend of the Roosters during a clash with the Titans this season. DAVID MOIR

RUGBY LEAGUE: Ex-Australian and New South Wales hooker Ben Elias believes Noosa product Jake Friend is most likely the second-best dummy-half in the country and he expects him to lift his game at the pointy end of the season.

The former, who is part-owner of a new gym at Maroochydore, has kept a sharp eye on the NRL season.

He rates Parramatta - not the Storm - as the team to beat but said Friend, 27, and the Roosters were also dangerous prospects.

"I'm a big fan of Jake's," Elias said.

"He's certainly a great leader, he's as tough as they come and he knows how to play the big games.

"If Cameron Smith wasn't around, he'd have been the Queensland hooker for the last five or six years."

Elias, who played 22 games for the Blues and featured in two grand finals with Balmain, believed Friend's influence in the game is telling.

"He's certainly a superstar and you can see when he's not in the side at the Roosters, they struggle," he said.

Friend, who is co-captain of the Roosters, missed four matches with a fractured hand before returning to action last month.

"He's back on the paddock now and has a couple of games under his belt and he'll only get better," Elias said of Friend, pictured.

A World Cup on home soil looms in December.

"I think he'll be there. I think he's earned the right and he's probably the second best hooker in the competition (NRL)," Elias said.

 

IN TOWN: Former league legend Ben Elias is in a business partnership at World Gym Maroochydore.
IN TOWN: Former league legend Ben Elias is in a business partnership at World Gym Maroochydore. Patrick Woods

But for now the focus is on finals and it's the Eels, which Elias rates.

"Parramatta have got a strong pack of forwards and some brilliant backs and kids like (Mitchell) Moses and Corey (Norman) are playing with confidence and they've got a superstar centre in (Michael) Jennings...and they've got (Semi) Radradra, who knows how to find the line."

Moses is Elias' nephew.

He believed minor premier Storm can not get much better than they already are but said some of the other sides could.

The Eels pushed the Storm to within two points in week one of the finals at Melbourne last weekend, despite a lop-sided second half penalty count.

"For the first time you can believe they (Storm) are very gettable and I don't think they'll win it. I think Parramatta looks very good," he said.

Elias was on the Sunshine Coast on Thursday, working on the set-up of World Gym Maroochydore, where the Bunnings warehouse used to be.

"The World Gym model supplies everything. We've got over 200 classes a week, the latest and greatest machines from America and a retail shop...it's got everything," he said.

The official opening will be held on September 24.

Topics:  benny elias jake friend sydney roosters


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