Tigers celebrate Farah's milestone but don't need his game plan
Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary says he is pleased the team got a win over Souths in veteran Robbie Farah's 250th NRL game for the club but insists Farah's inside knowledge of his former club wasn't the secret to success.
The Tigers snapped Souths' nine-game winning streak and did a remarkable job to limit their go-forward in a way no other team has been able to in the past nine rounds.
The best attacking team in the Telstra Premiership was held to just six points, and even that was five minutes from full-time with the result already sealed and the Tigers having suffered through five HIAs.
"We executed the plan well," Cleary said.
"Can I just say straight up, this story [about Farah bringing insider knowledge] seems to have grown out of nothing, not much at all to be honest.
"One of the reasons Souths are really good is they're very consistent. There's no tricks to what they do really, that's not being disrespectful because they do throw a lot at you but it's more about trying to stop it than any great clues around what's going to come at you."
Match: Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs
Round 19 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Instead Cleary praised his own team for riding a lift in confidence and recapturing what they did at the start of the season, scrambling well in defence and limiting opposition chances.
"With a bunch of HIAs at regular occurrences throughout the second half players went in different spots and we still were able to hold our defence together," Cleary said.
"Our attack got a bit out of whack but that's probably understandable. Against a good attacking side who throw plenty of attack at you I thought we handled it pretty well."
Farah was one of the five Tigers taken for a HIA, stretchered off nine minutes from time after a nasty head clash with George Burgess.
"He's all right," Cleary said of Farah, who was able to walk out onto the pitch to shake hands with opponents after full time and say a few words to the crowd.
"He's playing really well, there's no doubt about that, he's added a lot to our team. He touches the ball more than anyone else, he's given the players around him a bit of confidence. They're certainly functioning better as a unit."
Co-captain Elijah Taylor, who recovered from his own HIA to play a key role in the win, described it as "a special milestone for Robbie."
"He's a great leader, got so much experience. He gives confidence to people around him so it's a great achievement for him."
Taylor said it felt like the team was getting back to what worked in early-season upsets over the likes of Melbourne and the Roosters.
"It felt like it felt at the start of the season – blokes were turning up for each other, our scramble D and ruck control was a lot better," he said.
"We just keep fighting for each other, kept turning up. They're a good attacking side and threw a lot at us."
Cleary said not a great deal had changed since their horror loss to the Gold Coast at Leichhardt Oval in round 16; that 30-12 defeat has been followed by a bye then two impressive wins over two of the best teams in the NRL in the Dragons and Rabbitohs but the impact of Farah and Mbye has been key.
"The new additions, you can't go past Robbie and Moses Mbye, they've really added a bit of class and experience, they're both talkers in key positions, it's obviously going to make your team a bit better, all of a sudden you get a bit of confidence and the stuff we were doing at the start of the season comes back into our game," Cleary said.