Paul Crawley, The Daily Telegraph
February 20, 2013
WHEN Robbie Farah looks ahead to the challenges facing the Wests Tigers in 2013, he knows this: No matter what the season throws up in his face, there is no way it can be any harder than last year.
“Without doubt it was the toughest year of my life,” Farah told The Daily Telegraph yesterday at the Foundation Cup launch ahead of Saturday’s night’s clash against the Sydney Roosters.
Right now, very few experts are tipping the Tigers to be a force in 2013 - but Farah is confident the adversity from last year can only make them stronger. He should know.
Think back to all he went through - and, more importantly, how he handled it. There was the TV war of words with Matty Johns - and that comment from Steve Roach when Blocker said that Farah was not an “Origin-type player”.
All this came while Farah was dealing with the personal grief surrounding his mother’s battle with cancer, which she lost just days after Farah’s inspirational performance in Origin II.
Then, after all that, the Tigers missed the finals and imploded, culminating in Tim Sheens’ sacking.
Farah admits he almost “crumbled” at times.
“It just seemed like it was one thing after another and I couldn’t catch a break,” he said. "And with the thing with Mum going on in the background, mate, sometimes it felt like the whole world was caving in on me.
"There were times there when you didn’t want to go to training, you didn’t want to talk to anyone … if I wasn’t the captain of my club and if I wasn’t in a team sport or had so many people relying on me I think I probably would have crumbled.
“But I think the fact that I had so many people depending on me and I knew I couldn’t let those people down, I think that was the driving factor for me.”
It’s been eight months since his mum passed away and not a day goes by when he doesn’t think about her.
'It doesn’t get easier," he said. “Lots of things remind you of her and make you miss her. It is tough and I am living with my old man so it is difficult. Like anything you just have to keep chipping away.”
Which is what he did last year, and what he will continue to do in 2013.
He doesn’t regret the showdown with Johns, but he does regret the comments he made on Twitter.
“The team was playing poorly at the time and we were coming under a fair bit of criticism,” he explained. "I felt my role as a captain was to defend my team.
“I glad with the way I handled it. What I wasn’t happy with was the Twitter comments afterwards which I have learned from.”
And what about Blocker?
“Being questioned by Blocker in the paper was really difficult, especially him being a stalwart at the Tigers,” Farah said.
“For him to come out and say that, I really took it to heart and it was tough to deal with. But I knew the only way I could prove him and everyone else wrong was by playing good footy so I just tried to knuckle down and do that. I knew if I let all those things get to me that it would have started to affect the team. And with my role as club captain I just couldn’t afford to do that. I had a lot on my plate but I had to try and lead by example.”
He says as a footballer he hasn’t changed, but as a man: “I think like anything when you go through difficult times I guess you find out a little bit about yourself,” he smiled.
Farah admits there is a new attitude under new coach Mick Potter, but in no way is that meant as an insult to Tim Sheens.
Asked if he still stays in contact with Sheens, Farah said: "I do, occasionally.
“Obviously not as much as you would like to but we spent a week together with the Australian side up in Townsville and obviously his mother just passed away as well so I spoke with him.”