Defending against Robbie Farah is no open-book test.
Titans players have closely studied the Wests Tigers No.9 in the lead-up to their clash at Scully Park in Tamworth on Saturday night but over the course of their 80-minute examination there will be questions asked that they weren’t anticipating.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire on Friday said Farah would play despite suffering a heavy head knock early in their 51-6 thumping at the hands of the Eels on Easter Monday.
A short turnaround raised further doubts as to Farah’s availability but the fact that he cleared his HIA in the sheds on Monday eases some of the pressure on the head injury protocols he must meet.
The loss of Farah can’t be used as an excuse for the woeful defensive effort against Parramatta but his influence on his team’s attack can’t be under-estimated.
In the 15 games he has played for the club since his return midway through last year, Farah has been directly responsible for close to 20 percent of all Wests Tigers line breaks and almost 14 percent of their tries.
The 35-year-old is equal leader in tries and in try assists for the Tigers through six rounds - the type of numbers you would normally associate with a half or five-eighth.
Wests Tigers v Titans - Round 7
With 288 appearances under his belt, what is most remarkable about Farah is he is still extracting new plays from his bulging bag of tricks.
"We just can't take him lightly,” said his opposite number on Saturday, Titans hooker Mitch Rein.
“He's got all the tricks. He’s got a good running game, kicking game, passing game so we'll be on high alert for him.
"He's just always asking questions. He always seems to know where all the tired guys are as well.
"He's just a smart footy player. He's been such a great player for so long.”
Watching on last Monday, Rein noticed how the Tigers attack immediately suffered once Farah left the field, the reshuffle that forced captain Moses Mbye to move from fullback into hooker exacerbating the disruption.
"It comes down to awareness,” Rein told NRL.com.
"If we slow down their big guys and dominate the ruck with some good defence then hopefully that limits the options Robbie can go to.
"As soon as they lost him at the start [against Parramatta] it threw their attack into a bit of disarray.
"With Robbie in the team and Moses back at fullback they'll be completely different.”
Mbye said the Tigers have to be able to adapt better when they lose anyone in the line-up.
“He was disappointed he got taken off but that's the way the game's gone with the best interests of the players. He seemed fine so I'm guessing he'll be sweet," Mbye said.
“A little adversity in a game doesn't compare to some of the adversity you endure throughout the season, pre-season, life in general.
“If you can't overcome a player going down injured in a full contact sport you're never going to win the comp. We've got to adapt to that.”