Angry no more, Farah ready for possible Tigers return

Angry no more, Farah ready for possible Tigers return

Robbie Farah is a completely different person to the scorned footballer that sat alone downing a beer on the Leichhardt Oval scoreboard two years ago.

The resentment he once carried, that ate away at him to the point of him almost pulling the pin last year, is now gone.

The World Cup campaign with Lebanon changed him. At the start of the year, he sat down in the grandstand of Redfern Oval and spoke about how much the experience changed his outlook.

How much it changed his view on the past and his feelings towards the Wests Tigers.

But it was the interview that never saw the light of day. Damien Cook got the nod for the No.9 jersey. And Farah looked as though he would sail into the sunset playing in the Intrust Super Premiership with South Sydney's feeder club North Sydney.

His words that day now take on new meaning as Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary contemplates the 34-year-old potentially returning to the club mid-season.

Midway through said interview, it was pointed out that he had changed. That he was happier. He no longer appeared bitter and disgruntled with the world over being forced out of his beloved club.

Robbie Farah on the scoreboard at Leichhardt Oval in 2016.
Robbie Farah on the scoreboard at Leichhardt Oval in 2016. ©NRL Photos

"Anyone would have been bitter and upset about the way things have happened for me the last couple of years," Farah said in his chat with NRL.com earlier this year.

"There's no doubt I held resentment and it probably affected my footy last year. It affected my love for the game. I think it's only natural. I had thoughts of giving it away at times last year. I had a tough time at the Tigers. But I’m at a place now where I'm content. I've moved on from that pain.

"I can't control what has happened. Last year I held on to it a bit. Now I've put it behind me because if this is going to be my last year, I just want to enjoy it. I don't want that resentment to ruin what I have left. I've realised there’s no good in kicking stones."

They say time heals everything. And perhaps in Farah's case, it has. He sat back and watched as Benji Marshall returned to the club and was embraced by the supporters despite leaving on a somewhat sour note.

When Farah departed, it seemed the only time he would ever be seen near the Tigers would be at the 12 contractual appearances he had locked in for when he retired.

But suddenly things have changed. Farah has changed.

Robbie Farah has spent most of 2018 with North Sydney.
Robbie Farah has spent most of 2018 with North Sydney. ©Paul Barkley/NRL Photos

There's a realisation for Farah that life's too short to live with regrets. That's why he approached the Tigers about a possible return.

"I've achieved a fair bit in my career, but you're always remembered for how it ends," Farah said earlier in the year.

"If I'm playing crap footy or not getting picked or whatever it may be, at least I can walk away content knowing I've given it my all. At least you don't walk away with the regret of walking away too soon or not training hard enough or whatever it may be. I don't want to finish up with any regrets.

"The World Cup helped me realise that. Freddy taught me a lot of things. The fact I went in there as a captain. I was captain at the Tigers for a long time and slowly, slowly my influence on the field got taken away. For someone like me, who is a natural leader, that was really hard to handle."

Most of Farah's animosity towards the club was aimed at one person. The coach who forced him out, Jason Taylor.

Farah held so much resentment towards Taylor. Let's just say it may have been more than a coincidence that he was a late scratching when the Bears played against Wests for the Jason Taylor Cup earlier this year.

The club had chosen the coach over the captain. Then three weeks into the post-Farah era, the coach was gone. And Farah was left to stomach the pain of knowing that he had left for a failed cause.

The veteran hooker will never forgive or forget the treatment from Taylor. But his love for the Tigers will always remain.

So much so, when approached by NRL.com earlier in the year to conduct an interview with Marshall at Leichhardt Oval, he was more than willing to do so.

I’ve achieved a fair bit in my career, but you’re always remembered for how it ends.

Robbie Farah

He wouldn't have contemplated it 12 months ago.

His relationship with chair Marina Go didn't end well either. But Go isn't the sort of person who will let any personal feelings jeopardise the success of the club.

She has empowered Cleary to do a job. And if he believes Farah is the man to help him do that job, she and the board will give the coach the tick of the approval he needs to get Farah from South Sydney before the June 30 trade deadline. The club has also discussed the idea of bringing in Michael Lichaa if a deal could be found with the Bulldogs.

NRL.com understands the Rabbitohs are willing to listen. Farah told coach Anthony Seibold of the discussions with the Tigers after Thursday night's win over Parramatta at ANZ Stadium.

Farah is earning more this year (at least from Souths) than he did last year, but the only time he will play would be if Cook was unavailable.

If the Tigers are willing to spend the necessary money, it’s unlikely the Rabbitohs will deny him of what would be a fairytale farewell.

"At the last year at the Tigers it felt like I was in autopilot," Farah said earlier in the year.

"You're passing the ball and you're tackling but you're not really having a massive influence on the result. For me that was hard, because I was always someone who, if the game was on the line, I wanted the ball. I wanted to try and get the win for the team. It’s the competitive edge that has driven me throughout my whole career."

Cleary stated earlier in the year that if Marshall hadn’t reached out and spoken of his desire and passion to return to the club, it never would have to come fruition.

Farah must have been listening. They met up in North Strathfield on Wednesday to discuss the possibility.

Now it's up to Cleary to decide whether Farah fits into the new culture and whether he can provide the same impact his 2005 premiership-winning teammate has provided since returning in the pre-season.