Sunday September 4, 2016: the Canberra Raiders – enroute to a second-place finish – are carving up the Wests Tigers (who finished ninth with an 11-13 record) at Leichhardt. Robbie Farah, unwanted after 247 games at the Tigers (amazing after playing the full Origin series for NSW), is sitting on the scoreboard ledge with a beer. A sad way for Farah to leave.
Two-and-a-half years later, Farah is back at the Tigers and excelling, helping them to big wins over Manly-Warringah and the NZ Warriors to start 2019 and putting the Tigers on top of the ladder for the first time in their history. He made 38 tackles and scored two tries against Manly and 32 tackles and one try against the Warriors. He threw the final pass in both of Corey Thompson’s tries against the Warriors.
After leaving the Tigers in 2016, Farah moved to Souths for two years, playing 26 games. After playing all of Souths’ 24 games in 2017, he was demoted to feeder club North Sydney Bears for Damien Cook in 2018 before a mid-season transfer back to the Tigers. The previous drama was forgotten as Farah returned to starting hooker, playing nine games and reuniting with Benji Marshall (who’d returned after stints with the Auckland Blues in Super Rugby, St. George-Illawarra and Brisbane). Before Farah’s return, Wests had surprised everyone with five wins from their first six games (beating the Sydney Roosters, Melbourne twice, Parramatta and Manly), their only stumble a controversial 9-7 loss to Brisbane. They bottomed out as the season progressed, finishing ninth with a 12-12 record. Promising signs which they’ve capitalised on so far in 2019.
Can Farah lead the Tigers to their first finals appearance since 2011? They play the struggling Canterbury back at Campbelltown this Sunday, away to an inconsistent Penrith in round four, a Thursday night trip to Brisbane in round five, their Easter Monday clash with Parramatta and a trip to Tamworth’s Scully Park against Gold Coast, where they’re bound to have the majority of crowd support. While the trip to Brisbane is a challenge, the other games are winnable, setting the Tigers up for a possible 6-1 start. Having the premiership-winning experience of coach Michael Maguire will help in managing the squad during the difficult Origin period. If Farah can maintain his strong early form, the Tigers should return to the finals again, a fitting reward for the loyal Tigers servant.