A little older, a little wiser, the Tigers’ key men seek patience, writes Glenn Jackson.
AS someone who has a bachelor of economics degree, Robbie Farah might be familiar with the phrase: risk over reward. As someone who plays with Wests Tigers, he would know that, despite the enormous risks that his team has made, there has been no real reward, at least since Farah and his ilk slashed and burned their way to the 2005 premiership.
The three certainties in life since then could have been death, taxes, and the Tigers playing exhilarating rugby league. But for how long? They will never be boring, but there will be less of the ‘‘fly by the seat of their shorts’’ football they are famous for.
‘‘At times, we’ve been guilty of trying to score on the first play, from inside our own half,’’ Farah said. ‘‘I’m not saying we’re going to take that totally out of our game, but as much as we can, we’re going to wait for the right moment.’’
Less will be more for Farah, as well as fellow playmaker Benji Marshall, this year. ‘‘I’m just trying to be a bit more patient,’’ Farah said. ''Benji and I are fairly instinctive players; when we see something, we generally back ourselves. I think we learnt to be a lot more patient last year. There were a lot of games we won which were pretty ugly. We’re starting to learn to be a bit more patient.
‘‘Myself and Benji have both played nearly 150 first-grade games now. We’re both a lot more mature as players. It’s not a matter of putting the cue in the rack. It’s just being a bit more aware of our role in the team. We’re two of the older guys in the team now.’’
This apparent contentment to not try to do too much too often comes, largely, because the Tigers know just a little more patience would have won them last year’s preliminary final against St George Illawarra. But also because of the emergence of halfback Robert Lui, who only recently celebrated his 21st birthday. Lui, Farah said, was developing a wise head on young shoulders - although with a teenager’s penchant for a potty mouth, which is important.
‘‘With Rob there starting to take the pressure off both of us, taking a more dominant role, I can sit back and pick my moments,’’ Farah said. ''Rob’s starting to get real confident as a halfback. He’s ordering me around, and if I don’t listen to him, there’s a few F-words coming my way. That’s something we needed from him as a halfback. He’s got to demand the ball. He’s the halfback - that’s his job. As a hooker, I’ve got to listen to him, and he’s starting to learn that. Last year, he wouldn’t have dared swear at me. But if he calls for the ball and I don’t give it to him, he’ll get the swear words coming at me. It’s a good thing.
‘‘It’s something we need and I’m happy when I hear it.’’
Farah’s first-up performance last Monday night against Canterbury-Bankstown was partly a sign of things to come and partly not. Because of his desire to pick and choose his moments, he didn’t appear to dominate the game. He kicked once and while typically hard-working in defence, making 38 tackles, in attack he was quieter. He is comfortable for that to be the case because of the other playmakers in the side. But he is not so comfortable with the result; a first-up loss meant less risk, less reward for the Tigers.
‘‘It was probably a timely reminder that we’re not just going to show up and get handed the premiership on a platter,’’ Farah said. ‘‘We need to work hard at training. If we don’t, we’ll get our pants pulled down. We were all disappointed. We know that wasn’t good enough. But it’s early days, it’s round one. The good thing about it is we’ve got another game to play.’’
Having been plagued by back problems in past years, Farah is approaching the season not only confident, but fit. Fitter and stronger than he has been for years.
‘‘I can do things in the gym that I couldn’t do a couple of years ago,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m back doing squats and power presses. And my back’s holding up really good. I get a fair bit of traffic at me, but having that extra strength, I’m feeling a lot more confident.’’
That confidence extends to his teammates. ‘‘We’ve got the belief that we can do something,’’ Farah said. ‘‘We’re definitely not scared to come out and say it … It’s not cockiness or confidence, it’s just a belief that we can do something. Why not tell everyone that we’re confident. There’s no point backing away from it.’’
That, of course, would be boring.
‘Don’t try and fix something that’s not broken’ is the way I see Robbie’s comments in this article. Sure Lui has a role to play but Robbie please don’t go into your shell, let’s see your style of game that has seen you stand out as one of the top players in the NRL. If Robbie plays again tonight like he did last Monday night its time to hibernate.
Read the article a bit more closely . Maybe because Lui is wanting ball more often now is the reason why Farah is doing less . I think if farah sees something he gotta go for it . Thats the problem with too many playmakers (not saying that the case in this situation) but Benji and 2 Robs may see three entirely different things that may be on in attack and the outside backs are wondering what each is wanting . I’m not for having a creative 6 and 7 I want one to be a runner and one to be creative as they say Too many cooks spoils the broth
yeh not to read too much in to this but after how he played on monday, he seemed completely different, he was reluctant to kick and dart over the line from dummy half. I hope he doesnt shy away from plays tonight, robbie is my favourite player and i love it when he is right on his game.
Cmon Cpt. Farah!!!