The fallout from the Robbie Farah saga is likely to see the NSW Origin hooker spend time in the halves for the Wests Tigers this season.
The NRL club are overflowing with No.9s, with former Manly hooker and one-time Queensland Origin representative Matt Ballin linking with the Tigers over the off-season.
With Farah and Ballin both being regular 80-minute hookers, and the NRL reducing interchanges to eight in 2016, it’s meant coach Jason Taylor will have a tough decision to make when Ballin returns from injury in April.
However he says there’s no reason why they both can’t fit into the Tigers plans.
“Robbie has got the ability to play in other positions, particularly in the halves and defend a bit wider from time to time so we will have that up our sleeves,” Taylor told Sky Sports Radio.
“If we have a second hooker on the bench and we lose somebody then we can move Robbie to halves, he can play a bit of five-eighth there for a while as he has done in the past.”
At the time Ballin was brought to the club, it appeared Farah had played his last game for the Tigers.
Told he could consider his options elsewhere and that he risked playing reserve grade if he remained at the club, Farah was considered long odds of starting in first grade for round one.
However both he and Taylor now claim their relationship has mended, and the coach believes he can use the added depth at the club to Farah’s advantage.
“With the way the game moves and how difficult it is to play 80 minutes in the middle of the field, I want Robbie to come back on the field late in the game and help us win a game,” he said.
“I want that as opposed to just be hanging on because he has made 60 tackles and had big guys running at him.”
Ballin is a known workhorse in the middle of the field, regularly chalking up in excess of 50 tackles per match.
Farah’s shift to the halves is unlikely to take effect in the opening months of the season, with Ballin still recovering from knee surgery and unlikely to take to the field before round eight.