Robbie Farah says the Wests Tigers' success in 2014 will largely depend on the club's group of rising young guns. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Does anyone know what ever happened to Dick Grayson? Or better yet, does anyone even remember who Dick Grayson is?
Better known as Robin: The Boy Wonder, Grayson was to Batman what Benji Marshall was to Robbie Farah. He brought the bling to the (footy) ring, the bro to the (footy) show, and the smile to every kids' dial. In every facet of Tigers footy, he was the quintessential wingman to the leader of the club.
And that's the way it has been ever since one of the league's most dynamic duos made an entrance 11 years ago, back when the Tigers were about as relevant as a genuine scrum. A couple of seasons later they combined to help bring the Wests Tigers their first premiership as a joint venture.
But when the skipper finally returned from his World Cup mission to training this week, for the first time in his career, his extroverted playmaker was no longer standing next to him.
"It was different," Farah described of a Marshall-less existence. "It's always hard when you lose a player that you've played so many years alongside."
Marshall was just one of many sidekicks to have kicked on elsewhere following the club's shock premiership win in 2005.
"I've been here my whole career and one by one they've all kind of seemed to have moved on," Farah said. "There's a few of us left but we've got a few back in Patty Richards and Dene Halatau. But that's part of footy. Life goes on and we've just got to move on."
And so here we are, just over a month away from the start of the 2014 season, and Concord's own Bruce Wayne is in search of a new partner in crime. Preferably someone with a tackling rate with more makes than misses, and a hopefully someone with bag of tricks deeper than a no-look pass that was getting rustier by the game.
"Obviously it's going to be difficult to replace him," Farah said. "But it's a one that we're looking forward to and a challenge that really excites me."
Teenager Luke Brooks has the early running. But Farah, understandably, has his reservations of picking a co-pilot out of a crop of kids barely out of school.
"The proof will be in the pudding this year over a long campaign," he forewarns. "The difficult thing for young kids is they've always got the talent, but it's hard to maintain week in, week out over a long NRL season."
Having just turned 30 this week, the state's best dummy-half wisely preaches patience on a generation of kids defined by instant gratification. With more than half of his teammates under the age of 26, Farah knows the club will be heavily reliant on the benefits of youth this season.
"For us, I guess our success this year will rely on how well they come through," he said. "But we're confident we've got a talented bunch of players there and we're confident that with some patience we're going to be successful in the long term."
He insists it could happen in the short term too. For as much as he looks forward to a future without his long-time teammate, he remembers the year they came through together as kids.
"Look, we can do something [this year], no doubt. Whether it's this year or next year or in two years, I'm not too sure. Sometimes success comes quicker than you expect," he said.
"That happened in 2005 with the kids we had come through. Halfway through the year we were running 12th and to be honest, we were nowhere near the best team in the competition. But in the second half of the season it all came together."
And that was the season we remembered what happened when Bruce Wayne found his Dick Grayson.