Robbie Farah - Special Day For Mum

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.

WHETHER he is an Origin player, as it is termed, might still be up for debate. Not even Robbie Farah is sure whether he is, just as he isn’t quite sure what an Origin player is. What he knows is he is more of an Origin player now than when he last represented his state, in 2009.

‘‘The opportunities I got in Origin in the past, I let that slip,’’ Farah said yesterday. ‘‘Now, I’ve got this chance, but I haven’t achieved anything. I’ve got to go out there [next] Wednesday night and prove that I deserve to be there, and that I belong there.’’

Farah’s message yesterday, after a long, draining lead-up to his selection, was that the hard work was just beginning. ‘‘Last time, I was young, and I was probably just happy to be there,’’ Farah said. ‘‘This year, while I’m happy to be here, I know that there’s a lot of work to be done. We’re here for a reason. We’ve got to win.’’

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“I’ve learnt to not take notice of what people that don’t matter say” … Farah. Photo: Getty Images
Farah has more reason than many of his teammates to make Wednesday week’s opening clash of the series count. Just over a month ago, NSW coach Ricky Stuart phoned both Farah and his rival for the role, Canterbury’s Michael Ennis, and told them they were behind Newcastle veteran Danny Buderus in the running for the hooking position.

Farah then said to Stuart: ‘‘I’ve got a month to change your mind.’’

Ultimately, Buderus was ruled out through injury, but Farah is aware he should be pressing for the position again by the time the team for game two is selected. Some might have responded poorly to Stuart’s words, that he was running second or third in the race for a Blues jumper. The Wests Tigers hooker says now he appreciated the call.

'‘Since I got dropped [in ‘09], I hadn’t heard from anyone,’’ Farah said. ''You don’t know where you stand. You feel as though you’re on the outer, or you’ve been blacklisted. The fact that Ricky spoke to me, even though what he said at the time probably wasn’t what I wanted to hear, I took a lot out of that.

‘‘It gave me the confidence that I was still a chance as long as I worked hard. It was just a matter of showing him how much I wanted it, and how much I wanted to be a part of it.’’

And showing others, too. Farah’s selection always seems to be hotly debated. Many people consider his spark a worthy addition to Origin, but others say he is not built for the task. His suitability was even questioned by Steve Roach, a Balmain legend who is also on Stuart’s staff.

While admitting he was disappointed at the time, Farah said he had no issue with Roach. ‘‘We’re all here with the same goal,’’ Farah said. ‘‘We’ll all be working to achieve that.’’

Roach, who broke the ice by bounding up to Farah yesterday morning with a room key, exclaiming that the pair were rooming together, was not backing down.

‘‘I love him as a player,’’ Roach said. ‘‘If everyone had taken the time to listen to what I said . . . all I said is his style doesn’t suit Origin, and he had to change a couple of things.’’

And he did. On cue, Farah produced a performance against Gold Coast in round nine that proved to Roach the player had responded. ‘‘Everyone would have looked at the try and the field goal he kicked in extra time, but the thing that impressed me was getting out and charging down a field goal with a minute to go,’’ Roach said. ‘‘That’s what Origin is, doing something that takes an effort. Never be beaten, never lay down.’’

Farah produces the same defiant tone when he speaks of the often-repeated jibe that he is not tough enough for Origin football. ‘‘I’ve learnt to not take notice of what people that don’t matter say,’’ he said. ''The people that matter are my teammates, my coaches and myself.

‘‘All my teammates that I’ve ever played with know the sort of player that I am. I’ll go out there to do anything for them.’’

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Interesting . Stuart has claimed that he rang Robbie each year to let him know where he stood

Farah says that he hasn’t heard from anyone since getting dropped in 2009 , barring latest call

Someone’s speaking bulldust and I don’t think its Robbie .

And Stuart can’t understand why people think he is full of it and himself

As with most things in life, communication is incredibly important. Especially between a coach and his players.

The best coaches have good communication skills as well as an understanding of the individual and the game.

Which is why I always wonder what is said between Sheens and his younger players like Moors and Miller? Letting them know where they stand, what they have to do, and then giving them reward is sometimes all a player wants. I wonder.

Slightly more on topic, well done Robbie and I hope you make a great origin comeback for everyone involved in your life.

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