Wests Tigers have made the shock announcement that captain Robbie Farah has been given permission to leave the club at the end of 2015 – despite the club legend having two years to run on his contract.
It’s a sugar-coated way of saying Farah is being moved on by the club. The NRL-owned joint venture is under intense salary-cap pressure, which offloading the well-paid representative star will help alleviate.
— Danny Weidler (@Danny_Weidler) August 25, 2015
While the decision makes financial sense, the Tigers are light on hooker options for 2016 – veteran utility Dene Halatau (who is off-contract) and 21-year-old Kiwi Manaia Cherrington have filled the dummy-half duties in Farah’s absence this year. Sydney Roosters back-up Matt McIllwrick is about the only hooker with NRL experience available on the player market.
Farah, captain of the side since 2009, will also leave a massive experience void in a young Tigers outfit, particularly given Keith Galloway and Pat Richards will also depart at season’s end. Emerging Manly duo Michael Chee-Kam and Jack Littlejohn are the club’s only significant 2016 acquisitions to date.
The shabby treatment of arguably the club’s greatest ever player will no doubt rankle with the team and its fans. Farah has played a record 236 games for the Tigers – encompassing the 2005 premiership triumph – and boasts 13 Origin appearances for NSW (2009-15) and eight Tests for Australia (2009-14) on his résumé. He rates as one of the best No.9s of the modern era and among the most skilful and creative to ever play in the position.
Injury-prone Tigers veteran Tim Moltzen, who is on his way to Manly at the end of the year, took to Twitter to slam the club’s decision.
Ive witnessed the blood,sweat & tears from @robbiefarah whilst wearing the jersey.Never has let down the emblem. Pity it doesnt go both ways
— Tim Moltzen (@TimMoltzen) August 25, 2015
So where to now for the 31-year-old? Hooker is a key position for any club, and most already have their first-choice – along with a handy back-up – locked in for next season.
Gold Coast, Newcastle and Manly are the only clubs without a genuine top-shelf rake. But the Titans have brought former stalwart Nathan Friend back to the club and still have Kierran Moseley on their books, while a move to the glitter strip would seem unlikely for Farah, who has spent his whole life in western Sydney.
The Knights have promising trio Adam Clydesdale, Tyler Randell and Danny Levi, and the Sea Eagles won the prized signature of Brisbane rookie Matt Parcell with veteran Matt Ballin apparently on his way out.
South Sydney has emerged as the dark horse to pick up Farah following Issac Luke’s move to the Warriors, although current deputy Cameron McInnes is regarded as a hooker with tremendous potential and the versatile Paul Carter is also a handy option. Farah’s brother Eddie is a physiotherapist for the Rabbitohs, which has set tongues wagging that he could be heading to Redfern.
— Josh Massoud (@josh_massoud) August 25, 2015
A stint in the European Super League would probably represent Farah’s best payday with most NRL clubs’ salary caps on a tight leash at this late stage of the season, but that would also mean relinquishing his cherished NSW No.9 jumper.
NRL CLUBS’ 2016 HOOKER OPTIONS
Brisbane Broncos: Andrew McCullough, Kodi Nikorima.
Canberra Raiders: Josh Hodgson, Kurt Baptiste.
Canterbury Bulldogs: Michael Lichaa, Damien Cook.
Cronulla Sharks: Michael Ennis, Pat Politoni.
Gold Coast Titans: Kierran Moseley, Nathan Friend.
Manly Sea Eagles: Matt Parcell, Jayden Hodges.
Melbourne Storm: Cameron Smith, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Slade Griffin.
Newcastle Knights: Adam Clydesdale, Tyler Randell, Danny Levi.
New Zealand Warriors: Issac Luke, Thomas Leuluai.
North Queensland Cowboys: Jake Granville, Rory Kostjasyn, Ray Thompson.
Parramatta Eels: Nathan Peats, Isaac De Gois, Kaysa Pritchard.
Penrith Panthers: James Segeyaro, Apisai Koroisau.
St George Illawarra Dragons: Mitch Rein, Siliva Havili.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: Cameron McInnes, Paul Carter.
Sydney Roosters: Jake Friend, Jayden Nikorima, Matt McIllwrick*.
Wests Tigers: Manaia Cherrington, Dene Halatau*.
*Off-contract at the end of 2015.
First published by AU Tribune