By Tim Gore, 28 Jul 2016
Right now the Parramatta Eels implosion and the power struggle at the Wests Tigers are taking the headlines away from the Sharks’ Cinderella Story and the unlikely surge of the Titans. These are just two of the good things happening in the NRL right now.
Rather than letting the Eels and the Wests Tigers continue to roll around in the mud, Todd Greenberg could heed the lessons of history and get involved.
After World War Two the western allies were quick to reflect that the whole conflict actually had its genesis in the draconian reparations imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles at the close of World War One.
General George Marshall ensured that lesson was learnt. He made sure money and resources were pumped into Germany to rebuild it. MacArthur did the same with a shattered Japan. The rebuilding of both countries helped drive the post war prosperity that didn’t really stop until the 1970s oil crisis.
Rugby league needs a strong Parramatta Eels like the Western World needed a strong Germany and Japan in 1946.
So how can the NRL help do that? Easy. Get Jarryd Hayne and Robbie Farah to the Eels immediately.
The first suggestion is a no brainer. With the GWS Giants and Western Sydney Wanderers doing so well, the NRL needs to reinforce their western Sydney powerbase. While the Eels did require their board turfed out, the NRL needs to look after the long-suffering blue and gold fans who have experienced no joy since back when Sterlo had hair and people still cared about what Ray Price thought.
The NRL – using their discretionary funds – can help bring Hayne back to the Eels ASAP. Hayne’s aborted forays with the San Francisco 49ers and the Fiji Sevens team give the NRL and the Eels a great opportunity to bring the prodigal son home with fanfare. He will bring with him his immense talent, and with that will come hope and the fans. It’s a complete winner.
The suggestion of Farah to the Eels will bring howls of derision from many sectors, many of whom want Farah to stay at the Wests Tigers and play first grade. However, those who want that need to wake up and smell the coffee.
It isn’t going to happen.
Farah is finished at the Wests Tigers.
He cannot be allowed to return under any other circumstances than completely and publicly prostrating himself before Jason Taylor and declaring fealty.
And that ain’t ever going to happen.
The Robbie Farah-Jason Taylor saga bares some comparison with Wayne Bennett punting Wally Lewis back in the early ’90s.
Bennett needed control of his team that he knew was brimming with superstar potential. In Bennett’s way was the best rugby league player I’ve ever seen. Lewis had done everything that there was to do in rugby league and he had very strong views on how his team should play. He expected to run the Broncos like an autocrat regent.
In a bold move, that was to set the ongoing tone for his coaching career going forward, Bennett gave King Wally the boot. This came to the horror of multitudes of Queenslanders to whom the action amounted to treason – no, heresy. In spite of the public outcry, the Broncos hierarchy stood strong behind Bennett. The ’92 and ’93 premierships would have been sweet vindication for Uncle Wayne.
If Wally Lewis couldn’t beat Bennett, then Farah sure as hell won’t beat Taylor.
By dropping Farah to the Reggies, Taylor has declared that it is his way or the highway. And rightly bloody so.
Any club that has an expectation of success must have a coach who is totally in charge. While other people can and should input into the process, there is no place for rogue elements who break from the game plan and breed discontent or insurrection.
By many accounts Robbie Farah is that player.
There is the school of thought that he tries to dictate the play over the top of halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks. Further, he is widely viewed to have played a big hand in the removal of both Tim Sheens and Mick Potter as coach of the joint venture club.
While Mick Potter is a lovely bloke, I can’t comment on his coaching ability. However, Tim Sheen’s credentials are superb. Not only that, he’s a man of great integrity. That allegedly didn’t stop Farah playing a large role in deposing Sheens.
If there is one rule that has descended down through the ages it is that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword. It is clear that Robbie’s time at the Wests Tigers has come.
It can’t be any other way. If the club were to now take Farah’s side over Taylor’s it would force the coach out and effectively hand the next coach a dog collar, while handing Farah a leash. What a ridiculous proposition. What an unthinkable course of action.
While Taylor has said that Farah could force his way back into the team, only severe injuries to the side will see that happen. Farah is likely to be marooned on 247 games unless he moves clubs.
While he may be one of the Wests Tigers best 17 players he no longer has a place in the match-day 17. Farah’s band of stalwart supporters banners and rallying cries are for a lost and misguided cause.
Firstly, they are demanding loyalty for a man who seems to have placed little stake in it. Further, they think all could be lost if Robbie doesn’t play first grade but that’s not necessarily so.
The situation has a mirror in what happened at the Panthers in 2012.
The story goes that in 2012 Ivan Cleary was holding one of his first training drills as new coach of the Penrith Panthers when one of the senior players loudly proclaimed, “This drill is dogshit.”
It was an intentionally direct challenge to Cleary’s authority. A play for player control of the team. It was a thrown gauntlet that effectively said, “I’m the star pal and I’ll say how we do things around here.”
I’ve never discovered the identity of the malcontent Panther but what I do know is that by 2014 when the Panthers side were just six points from making the grand final they did it without Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis and Michael Gordon.
It was Ivan’s way or the highway. For the side to be successful it had to be. For the Wests Tigers to be successful Farah must also hit the highway – ideally the Cumberland Highway.
Let Farah go prove how good he is at the Eels ASAP. Let him grind his axe in Blue and Gold. The loss of Kieran Foran, Nathan Peats, Junior Paulo, Anthony Watmough, Corey Norman and Semi Radradra – for a variety of reasons – sees them still fighting but on their knees. It’s time the NRL gives them some solid assistance. Unless they want to give GWS and the Wanderers the running that is…
The NRL can help bring Hayne home and give the Eels special dispensation to pick up Farah post the June 30 deadline. In doing so they’ll both shore up the Eels roster and help bring calm to the Wests Tigers, letting them concentrate on making the 2016 finals.
Everyone’s a winner.
So what about it Todd? Wanna get involved?