MORE than anyone in NSW, Ricky Stuart appreciates how State of Origin can incite raw emotion.
At the jersey presentation ahead of last year’s series opener, Stuart teared up before the entire squad and their immediate families.
As he paused for composure, Stuart revealed the shameless passion his players must embrace to end Queensland’s record reign.
And yesterday it began with recalled hooker Robbie Farah.
Plucked from a three-year purgatory and weeks of debate over his Origin temperament, Farah also struggled to put his feelings into words.
Not about his disappointment over criticism of his playing style.
Nor about his frustration over being axed in 2009 without any explanation to heal the wounds.
What Farah described was the inspiration he’s drawn from mother Sonia’s battle against pancreatic cancer.
Posed that simple question at yesterday’s media session, the 28-year-old abruptly stopped and looked elsewhere.
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“I’m not sure how to answer that,” he finally replies.
"I don’t know what to say. There’s so many things … "
His final remark trails off into silence, the whole exchange unfolding before half a dozen waiting journalists.
Stuart would’ve been proud.
It’s exactly this brand of passion he wants to see.
Proud. Open. Unabashed.
Heart on sleeve.
Since Sonia was diagnosed last November, Farah has ridden an emotional pendulum between his duty as Wests Tigers skipper and Sonia’s youngest son.
On one hand, he’s angrily rubbished rumours about the team’s culture before a national television audience.
And on the other, he’s nursed and cooked for Sonia in the family’s Campsie home.
So it was ultra fitting that Farah learned of his selection on Mother’s Day.
“I had a nice day with Mum and got a call from (Tigers director) Dave Trodden congratulating me around 5 o’clock,” he said.
"Mum was there and she was happy. It cheered her up.
"We went out for Japanese in Campsie, so it was like a double celebration.
"I’ll be thinking of her and the rest of my family next Wednesday night.
“That’s what it’s all about - I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”
When NSW forwards coach and Tigers great Steve Roach declared the rake’s game unsuited to Origin two weeks ago, Farah might’ve thought he’d been exiled from the Blues family.
But the immediate disappointment quickly turned to acceptance when Farah recognised that he needed to make some adjustments.
Read carefully, Roach’s comments echoed what Stuart had personally told him over coffee a few weeks earlier.
Because the Tigers have been without a organising halfback since Scott Prince’s exit in 2006, Farah’s role went beyond the orthodox hooker.
“It’s a little different at the Tigers, so it was a change to play with Mitchell Pearce for City,” Farah said.
"With that combination I knew my job and stuck to it.
“With respect to the guys who’ve played at the Tigers, we haven’t had a genuine halfback for a while. We’ve chopped and changed and sometimes I’ve played first receiver in games.”
“Sticky (Stuart) was really honest and told me what I needed to do.”
What a great captain and club man we have got. Robbie do it for your family, friends, team mates but more importantly do it for yourself.