The first instruction from the Wests Tigers to Robbie Farah will be to stop worrying about why he was once perceived to have been thrown under the bus, and get #onthebus.
There’s no doubt that Farah can add a lot to a football team crying out for a quality hooker. But there’s more to this signing than football.
History cannot be ignored. Which is why, as reported by NRL.com on Tuesday, Cleary had to convince club hierarchy that Farah would only add to what he has built so far. They took his word for it.
While former coach Jason Taylor was the main reason for Farah’s ugly exit from the Tigers at the end of 2016, the three-year ordeal over his future at the club also fractured his relationship with chairwoman Marina Go.
But Go endorsed Farah’s recruitment at a board meeting on Monday night, and told NRL.com she has no issues with the former NSW and Australian hooker.
"I’m happy to welcome him back to the club," Go told NRL.com.
"As has been done previously, the Wests Tigers board backed the coach. It’s Ivan’s very strong belief that Robbie can add value to our team and our club and we support that.
Cleary discusses Farah return
"My relationship with Robbie is fine. It’s professional. There’s no issue. It was never personal. You can’t have personal relationships in a role like mine."
The Rabbitohs agreed to Farah’s release on Wednesday afternoon, with the hooker expected to arrive at Concord Oval on Thursday for his first day of his second coming at the Tigers.
He’s signed a contract for the remainder of the year, and will play his first game for the club next Sunday at Leichhardt Oval against the Gold Coast Titans.
"I look forward to welcoming Robbie back home to Wests Tigers this week," Cleary said.
"Robbie brings a wealth of experience back to the club in a position where we feel we need some additional support at this stage of the season.
"All of my discussions with Robbie have been very positive, he understands the direction that the club is heading in, and how he can help contribute to that."
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said Farah filled the club's final roster position for 2018.
"Robbie is a quality player and will bring some valuable experience to our playing group," he said.
"It's important to note that over the last two years this club has undergone significant change and we are building towards something special here.
"We're incredibly proud of the position that the club is in now and look forward to welcoming back a life member in Robbie," he said.
His signing is a bonus on top of the recent acquisition of Bulldogs fullback Moses Mbye.
Farah has played 26 matches in the NRL for Souths over the past two seasons after wearing the black, white and orange jersey 247 times over 14 years since he made his debut in 2003.
Despite representing NSW three times in the State of Origin arena in 2016, he only played nine matches with the Wests Tigers in his final season at the club after a falling-out with Taylor.
Cook's red-hot form this year, which led to his selection for the Blues, has restricted Farah to just two matches at NRL level in 2018. He has spent the majority of the season with the Rabbitohs' feeder club North Sydney in the Intrust Super Premiership.