Tough campaigner Farah feels at home calling the shots on the big stage
May 29, 2013 - 6:47PM
Rugby League Writer
“Every time you pull this jersey on you can’t afford a bad game”: Robbie Farah.
“Every time you pull this jersey on you can’t afford a bad game”: Robbie Farah. Photo: Getty Images
When Robbie Farah pulls his NSW jersey over his head next Wednesday night, it might be difficult for him to focus completely on the job ahead, at least in that moment.
The last time he did so at ANZ Stadium, his mother Sonia was watching on from a hospital bed; it would be the last time she saw her son play. The third match of the series, at Suncorp Stadium, was the first match he played after her death, of pancreatic cancer.
“It was a good time, but a tough time,” Farah recalled this week. “The last time I pulled this jersey on, it was a difficult time for me. But it also makes me proud, with what happened last year, and everything I went through – the last game she watched me play was wearing these colours. Putting this on means a lot to me . . . You always think of her, day-in, day-out. That never changes. But it does bring back memories, good and bad. Hopefully I’ll make her proud, and make the family proud again.”
Last year was the making of Farah as an Origin player, despite his personal turmoil. What was largely forgotten following his Brad Fittler medal-winning form for the Blues was that, before the 2012 series, questions were still being asked about whether he should be playing in that arena. Farah said it was a “breakthrough series for me”.
“I always knew I could play well there,” he said. “I just had to show to a few people out there that weren’t sure or had question marks over me. Within myself I was always confident. I went out and played that way. For me now, it’s no different.”
But he is not complacent. “Even last year after I played well in game one and going into game two, you still have to play well,” he said. "Game three you have to back it up.
“Every time you pull this jersey on you can’t afford a bad game. For me last year is wiped and I have to build on that and make sure I play well again this year . . .”
What is clear is that Farah is comfortable in his Blues jersey these days, at odds with his two appearances before last season, in 2009.
“As soon as I came into camp [last year] I felt like I deserved to be there,” he said. “I think that’s why I allowed myself to play well. I think in 2009 . . . you’re not sure if you belong in the group. Last year, it felt like I deserved to be there and that’s what made it easy for me. It’s no different this year.”
Stamping him further as a State of Origin player, Farah is also the NSW vice-captain. He said that it was “a nice little thing for me – but it’s not about me”. “I guess I have been talking to Laurie [Daley, the NSW coach] a fair bit leading into the camp and I guess he sees me as a senior player here,” he said.
“I see myself as a senior player in this group. I have to make sure I lead like a captain or vice-captain, day-in, day-out and do my part, help ‘Gal’ [captain Paul Gallen]. It’s a great honour. As I said I am rapt. I have always been not sure whether I am going to get picked. Now that I have got that kind or role, it kind of feels like I belong here.”