Unlikely ally Jason Taylor has defended All Stars no show Robbie Farah, saying the Wests Tigers hooker offered his services for this weekend’s NRL showcase event but was knocked back.
Farah raised eyebrows when he withdrew from the World All Stars squad in order to attend Monday’s Super Bowl 50 in the United States.
He reportedly paid $15,000 in a charity auction to win a Super Bowl seat at Levi’s Stadium, home of Jarryd Hayne’s San Francisco 49ers.
Farah was among a spate of player withdrawals that fuelled debate over the All Stars concept’s future.
Taylor then named Farah in a Wests Tigers trial squad to tackle Melbourne on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday night – the same evening of the All Stars showdown in Brisbane.
In the past Taylor had butted heads with Farah, who was threatened with a reserve grade exile last August.
But Taylor came out in support of the veteran on Friday, denying claims that Farah did not make himself available for the All Stars game.
“Robbie was available for the All Stars,” he told reporters.
“But because he wasn’t going to be there for the whole week they chose not to take him on.
“He didn’t pull out of the All Stars. He was ready to go but they weren’t comfortable he was going to miss the start of the week.
“But that’s fine by us, we get him to play for us.”
Farah fell out with Taylor when the veteran rake was told last August that he could explore a release or risk being demoted to NSW Cup if he remained.
A move to the Sydney Roosters loomed before months of drama and speculation finally ended when Farah was named in the Wests Tigers leadership group in December.
Farah gets first crack at the hooker spot with Manly recruit Matt Ballin likely to miss the first two months of the season with a knee injury.
Taylor was on Friday adamant Farah was his first choice hooker for the NRL season opener.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Asked about how he would use Ballin, Taylor said: “Matt is a few weeks away, we will work through that when we get to it.”