NRL: Robbie Farah benched as future at Wests Tigers remains unclear

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Robbie Farah will start from the bench in Friday night’s clash against South Sydney and Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor refuses to guarantee the hooker will be a regular selection for the rest of the season.

While team chemistry is one of the reasons why Taylor is restricting his hooker’s game time, it is also understood the Tigers are using it as a ploy to tempt Farah to walk out on the final year of his contract in 2017.

Taylor insists there has been no spiteful fallout from the decision to rest Farah from the Roosters game last week, but Farah remains on the outer after spending the bulk of Thursday’s training session watching Dene Halatau run around at hooker. Taylor expects Farah to be at the joint venture club next season since he has another year to run on his deal, but the coach insists he will pick his team based on the mix required each week.

“The make-up of the team is based on what we as the coaching staff think 100 per cent is the best opportunity for us for the particular game,” Taylor said. “In any given game, what we believe is the strongest team for that game, that’s what we’ll go with. I don’t think in the NRL anybody should be guaranteed a position for any length of time, particularly for us based on where we are on the competition table. We have to get ourselves up the ladder.”

Despite not picking a recognised dummy-half, Taylor is adamant he made the right decision leaving Farah out of last Sunday’s loss to the Roosters at Allianz Stadium. “Robbie hadn’t played in our team for the last three games and we played really strongly,” Taylor said.

“I think people look at the result of that game and say they made a mistake and shouldn’t have left Robbie out. For me, that’s not correct. We went with the right team. The fact we were in the game with 15 minutes to go shows that.

“But we made too many errors all day … the decision was the correct one for Robbie not to play on the back of a head knock and 80 minutes of Origin.”

The relationship between Taylor and Farah deteriorated last year when the coach gave his then skipper the ultimatum of leaving the club or to play NSW Cup. They still have a sound working relationship with Taylor denying tempers have again flared after leaving the NSW hooker out of the team last week.

“Absolutely not,” Taylor said when asked if they had fallen out recently.

“We have a really solid professional relationship and we discuss in detail all of these decisions. There was speculation last week that Robbie wasn’t happy that he wasn’t playing. I would be disappointed if he was happy. There’s no player in the NRL that’s happy to be asked to start on the bench or asked to have a rest for a game like we did there. That’s part of it. Our relationship has developed enormously in that regard, in relation to having honest conversations. They are conversations where we both get to have the discussion and then Robbie understands why the decision is made and moves on … we’ll do what’s best for the team first, then for the individual.”

There has been a suggestion Taylor’s main gripe with playing Farah is the impact it has on halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses. Taylor alluded to “playing strong in the middle” when justifying Farah’s absence last week, but won’t go into detail about his reasons.

“I’m not talking about specifics,” Taylor said. “When I have discussions with the media about players and decisions, I’m not at liberty to start discussing the ins and outs of individuals performances based on how I see them.

“They are private discussions that I have with the players one-on-one that aren’t even shared with the majority of the team. I don’t think they should be aired publicly.”

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