Friend appeared in 233 of a possible 258 games for the club between the 2009-18 seasons. That includes 133 consecutive matches over a five-year period that began in 2010.
Now, in his 13th pre-season with the club, the veteran hooker said he was fully fit for a crack at a third straight title.
Another incentive is the all-time record for most appearances at the club, which is held by Anthony Minichiello with 302. Teammate Mitchell Aubusson, who also comes off-contract at the end of next season, is second on 290. Friend is behind Mitchell Pearce in fifth on 246 matches.
“Obviously [it was] tough watching last year. But definitely, for the rest of my body, the injury seems to be really good,” Friend said.
“All the scans are positive. So going into next year, that [arm] should be all fine and the rest of me has had a pretty good rest. I feel fresh and never been [more] excited to get back into training after not having as much footy during the year.”
Friend said he had reached out to Mitchell, who returned for pre-season testing last week but isn’t expected to rejoin the squad until the new year.
However, the Kangaroos player could be at a new club by then, with the Wests Tigers, South Sydney and Gold Coast mentioned as possible homes.
“He seemed fine to me. He’s enjoying time with his family and I think that’s great for him. He needs that after a big season,” Friend said. “He’s got a decision to make and that’ll be done over the Christmas break, I’d say.”