‘He took one for the team’: The mid-game sacrifice that unleashed Maroons sensation

Harry Grant has revealed the stunning selflessness of Maroons hooker Jake Friend that allowed the rookie rake to star in Queensland’s Origin series deciding win at Suncorp Stadium.

Playing in just his first series after 263 NRL games, Friend could have been forgiven for pulling rank on Grant, but his team first approach helped facilitate one of the great Origin debuts.

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“I didn’t really talk to Wayne about my role until just before the game because I didn’t want to get worked up on it, but I was sort of playing lock there and I didn’t know what I was doing for some of the sets,” Grant said on 1170 SEN’s Morning Glory with Matty Johns.

Young Grant credits Bennett for instilling confidence

State of Origin: Following his stunning Origin debut, Maroons young gun credited coach Wayne Bennett for instilling confidence within him and the team.

“Friendy was pretty good to me, he just said ‘mate, you just chop and change at No. 9 and I’ll just float.’

“It shows the quality that he has as a player and as a leader … that he just sort of took one for the team and had a few tough carries.”

Friend has blossomed into one of the great modern NRL captains and led the Roosters to two premierships as skipper in 2018 and 2019 and another under Anthony Minichiello in 2013.

The veteran hooker was one of Queensland’s best in the opening two games, but Matty Johns believes Friend’s ability to know what the team needed in Game III shows his class as a player, man and leader.

Harry Grant scored a try in a superb debut for the Maroons.Source:Getty Images

“It’s a really good insight into Jake Friend,” Johns said.

“Let’s face it here, Jake Friend is out on the field with a bloke who everyone is saying is about to replace him and he basically just said ‘mate, I’m going to give you a leg-up here,’ I’m going to look after you. So it says a lot about Jake.’”

Jake Friend, Mal Meninga and Harry Grant at Queensland training.Source:News Corp Australia

Friend’s Origin career as a starter could be over by the next series given Grant’s brilliant first outing.

However his place in Origin folklore is set after an excellent debut series and his sacrifice in the decider to help Queensland win an unwinnable series.

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