NRL 1 year ago

Farah vs Taylor: Or is it Farah vs the Tigers?

  • Farah vs Taylor: Or is it Farah vs the Tigers?

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 17: Robbie Farah of the Tigers warms up before the round seven NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Melbourne Storm at Leichhardt Oval on April 17, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

  • Farah vs Taylor: Or is it Farah vs the Tigers?

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 30: Robbie Farah supporters in the crowd hold up a sign during the round 25 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the New Zealand Warriors at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on August 30, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Like a bad marriage where both partners seemingly love each other, but they put each other through so much pain, you wonder why they do it.

When Jason Taylor came into the club to take over from Mick Potter he did it under the agreement he would have full control of the players and the coaching administration at the West Tigers.  But does any coach really get full control and full support of the club?.

The Farah vs Taylor saga has reared it's ugly head again with speculation in the media that Taylor resting Farah was not solely a case of 'an origin player requiring rest'.  Taylor in his press conference post the Roosters was non-committal about whether Farah would line up this week and it has sent the media into a frenzy.           

The problem with this scenario is that it doesn't just affect Robbie Farah.  It affects the club and the other players.  Jason Taylor has two young halfbacks attempting to ply their trade and they want to play a game that does not suit Robbie Farah's style of play. You can see it in their game, they are a much different side when Farah plays vs when Farah doesn't play.  Even though Farah has adjusted his game and he doesn't run from hooker so much anymore.  There is still no  glue between the playmakers.  The flow on is this:

1. The two young halves can't play a game plan both they and Taylor want to play, they start losing games.  Pretty soon you will have the most exciting new pair of halves coming up through the ranks with a losing culture and they will be 100 or 150 games into their career and wont be developing at the rate they should. 

2. Jason Taylor was hired to rebuild the side, and a coach should be able to come in and institute a game plan that he thinks will help rebuild a club to it's former success. His current halves and hooker combination is not a workable arrangement. If the Tigers keep losing, Taylor will find his head on the chopping block.

The problem with this scenario is that it is not the first time this has happened at the Tigers.

Tim Sheens - In 2011 while Tim Sheens was at the helm of the Australian team reports surfaced of a fall out between Farah and Sheens as Farah was allegedly disappointed with  Sheens for not selecting him enough at rep. level.  Although played down by Sheens, Farah, the club and other players (Marshall), Sheens coached through the 2012 season and although signed at the club until 2014, his contract was severed, the club citing poor form.  However in an interview Sheens claimed it was a lack of support from senior players:

Asked whether a show of public support from senior players like Marshall and skipper Robbie Farrah could have saved his job, Sheen responded: "Put it this way: players get rid of coaches".(foxsports.com.au)

Mick Potter - In 2012 Mick Potter was brought into the club to essentially coach out the rest of Tim Sheens contract. A reported rift between Potter the Club and Farah arose when it surfaced Potter was trying to move the club on post the Farah era and sign him for only two seasons instead of four.  Then midway through his tenure, Potter, as with Sheens, seemed to lose favour with the playing group and his contract was severed. When asked about his tenure at the club potter said:

"I have never been at a club like that but it was out of my control.  I wasn't able to assemble my own squad as such apart from a couple of players"(sportingnews.com)

Jason Taylor - Enter Jason Taylor. The first thing Taylor did was clean house and bring his own coaching staff (and rightly so). He was seemingly given full control to rebuild the club and has a strategy to do so.  This meant former players and then club coaches,Roach, Sironen, Payton and Skandalis were to be moved on at the start of 2015. Then famously midway through 2015 it was reported that Farah was not in the clubs plans for the future and he was free to seek other options.  The option Farah took was stay at the club and play out his contract and if you put together the circumstantial evidence, Farah is still at the club, the Tigers are struggling and in the early part of the season people are calling for Jason Taylors head.

It seems the two most recent coaches Potter/Taylor have attempted to look past the Robbie Farah era and to the future and they were/are metaphorically running  uphill into a snow storm.

The club is not completely in the clear though. Yes obviously a club has to look to the future and yes if they feel a player will not help them reach their 5-10 year plan negotiations need to occur. 

But this is not any player.  This is Robbie Farah.  He is one of the best hookers of the modern era.  He is signed to the club until the end of 2017 and he has the right to stay where he is signed.  In addition Robbie Farah saw the West Tigers through the good the bad and the ugly.  And in 2012 when the club was in danger of breaching the salary cap but didn't want to lose it's star player Farah reportedly took a $200 000 pay cut to help the club out of a bad patch.

It's not just Farah and the Tigers. It's a recurring theme in professional sports and not just NRL.  It seems from the outside looking in, clubs ask players for loyalty.  Whenever a player seeks options at other clubs or other codes to secure their financial future they are branded as 'traitors', clubs ask players to make sacrifices and put their club and their code first. But when a club needs to axe a player, roster management, cap management etc, they cite it is a business decision, not personal, and everyone has to cop it on the chin. 

The problem with all of this is that the Tigers are trying to play on both sides of the black jack table as both dealer and player.  But you can't have it both ways.  No player is more important than a club and no club is more important than the welfare of an individual player. The Tigers need to make a firm decision which camp they are in. They either:

1. Stick with Farah and  Taylor and ask them to work with each other until the end of 2017, then in 2018 they let Taylor take over as intended.

2. Or they cut ties with Farah now, they back Taylor, and they either have a 750K a year player, finish out his contract in NSW cup.  (presenting an interesting scenario where we have the NSW incumbent hooker playing reserve grade). Or ask Farah to seek other options.  (we know how that turned out last year)

3. Or they cut ties with Taylor  and again another coach who was brought in to look to the future falls into the coaches black hole at the West Tigers.

Sources:

http://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nrl-premiership/dumped-wests-tigers-coach-tim-sheens-says-he-was-disappointed-by-treatment-from-senior-players/story-fn2mcuj6-1226592082801

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-01/farah-axing-down-to-feud-with-taylor-marshall/6741988

http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/wests-tigers/new-coach-jason-taylor-puts-broom-through-wests-tigers-staff-20141011-114n8r.html

http://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nrl-premiership/robbie-farah-and-benji-marshall-took-huge-pay-cuts-to-help-the-wests-tigers-stay-under-the-cap/news-story/2556eb7ef7ae4f55deed91f8f2813dd9

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