Jason Taylor empathises with embattled Wests Tigers star Robbie Farah, recalling how he wrote letters to coaches begging for another shot in the NRL when he was axed from first grade in his own playing days.
With Farah expected to line up for his second reserve grade game in as many weeks on Saturday, Taylor on Friday admitted he felt for the out-of-favour hooker.
“I was dropped to reserve grade a few times through my career and that gives you an understanding and an empathy for the players that are going through it,” said the Tigers coach.
Taylor remembered how he was controversially dropped by Northern Eagles coach Peter Sharp late in 2000, ending what was then a record 194 consecutive games in first grade.
It stood almost 15 years before it was broken by Gold Coast prop Luke Douglas in 2014.
But despite the setback, Taylor, in the twilight of his career, swallowed his pride and begged for another opportunity to stay in the NRL.
Then-Parramatta coach Brian Smith threw the point-scoring halfback a lifeline, and was rewarded with Taylor helping the club to its first grand final in 16 years.
“My career was pretty much at an end and you might remember I actually sat down and wrote letters to some NRL coaches to try and get a start the following year,” Taylor said.
“Brian Smith gave me an opportunity and I ended up playing in that grand final. You never know what’s around the corner and often it can be a really positive outcome.”
Taylor praised Farah for putting in a strong performance for the club’s NSW Cup team in what was an emotional week for the 2005 premiership winner.
“As Robbie tweeted last week, the toughest times that you go through, those are the ones that determine where you’re going to get to in life,” he said.
“It hurts at first, but you bounce back up and you get on with it. Robbie did that really well last week and I was very impressed by that.”
Farah, 32, has already been linked with a move out of Concord, but Taylor said he was unaware of any negotiations that would lead to the hooker’s departure.
“Robbie’s got a contract for next year at this stage. That stuff will happen, I’d assume, but I don’t know anything about it,” he said.