Nathan Friend to miss start of NRL season

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 17:34 31/01/2013
Nathan Friend
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax Media
STILL OUT: Warriors hooker Nathan Friend.

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Warriors hooker Nathan Friend is set to miss the start of the 2013 NRL season due to surgery next month to repair nerve damage.

Club doctor John Mayhew said it was hoped the 152-game veteran would be ready to play in eight to 10 weeks.

That would leave Friend in line to make his first appearance of the new campaign in April.

The Queenslander had surgery last August after dislocating his right shoulder in the 24th-round match against the Panthers.

He visited a specialist this morning to have the injury assessed.

"He'll have a nerve graft next month as a result of damage sustained when he was injured," Mayhew said.

Friend's surgery was a rare complication similar to what happened to former Warriors back rower Wairangi Koopu in 2006, Mayhew said.

Friend made 17 appearances in his debut season with the Warriors, missing five games after breaking his jaw against the Broncos and then the final two matches of the year following his shoulder injury.

"It's frustrating but all I can do is to have the operation, repair the nerve and do all I can to be ready as soon possible," Friend said.

"I've been through disappointments due to injuries before. It was tough being out after breaking my jaw last year but you get over it, get on with your recovery and fight your way back. 

''That's what I'll be doing again as well as supporting the boys throughout the trials and the start of the season."

Alehana Mara and Pita Godinet are likely candidates to replace Friend at hooker for the beginning of the NRL season.

The Warriors start their pre-season trial programme in just nine days, facing the Titans at Pizzey Park, Burleigh Heads.

They then meet the Panthers in Hamilton on February 16 and the Broncos in Dunedin on February 23.

Their NRL season kicks off against the Eels in Sydney on March 9.

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