Benji Marshall has leapt to Robbie Farah’s defence amid calls for Wests Tigers to choose between the veteran former skipper and young guns Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks.
Damning statistics reveal the Tigers have won four of five matches without Farah in 2016 but only one from seven with the NSW State of Origin hooker on deck.
But while Blues coach Laurie Daley is on record as saying he’d pick Farah for Origin from reserve grade, Marshall believes his former premiership-winning teammate is shackled under the Tigers’ second-year mentor Jason Taylor.
“When I played with Robbie, he made my job a lot easier,” Marshall said.
“As a hooker, one of your jobs is getting your team into the field position you want to get to, and that’s one of Robbie’s greatest strengths. When I played with him, he took the pressure off me.
“Now the Robbie Farah we’re seeing this year is a completely different Robbie Farah.
“The way he plays – he’s passing the ball off the deck a lot more than he has than any other previous year.
“For me, his strengths are his ability to create movement out of dummy-half and drop blokes under and create a bit of second phase and a bit of creativity.
“The Robbie that we’re seeing this year is probably being told he needs to pass the ball off the ground a lot more and he’s being less effective.”
Farah’s future at the Tigers has been under a cloud ever since Taylor arrived at Leichhardt and the NSW vice-captain’s long-time Blues deputy – Cronulla hooker Michael Ennis – believes the issue has come to a head.
“Since Jason Taylor has come to the club we’ve seen a massive change in the style of football that Robbie plays out of dummy-half,” Ennis said.
“I think the Wests Tigers are in a situation now where they need to make a decision.
“And looking from the outside, they need to work out either keep Brooks and Moses and Farah goes at the end of the year or they bring in an experienced half to play with one of these young guys and let one of the young kids go.
“They need to work out the style of football they want to play because we’re seeing it in their results at the moment.
“The young kids seem to play with a totally different aura and confidence about them when Farah’s not there.
“I don’t know why that is and what goes on through the week but you just notice a different temperament in the two halves when Farah’s on the field to when he’s not on the field.
“One of the young halves would really benefit at this time in their career with an experienced half around them, just to take the pressure off at different points.”