The Wests Tigers say out-of-favour skipper Robbie Farah will not be automatically dropped to reserve grade should he stay on at the NRL club next year.
The NSW State of Origin hooker has been told he is free to negotiate with rival clubs after reportedly falling out with coach Jason Taylor.
The club has promised to honour the final two years of Farah’s $950,000-a-season contract, but coach Jason Taylor has said it was best for all parties if he moves on.
Farah, a Tigers life member, said he was told that if he stayed put he would be playing in NSW Cup and would be a part-time member of the squad.
The 31-year-old has been told he is on club probation for behavioural problems and has been linked with a move to St George Illawarra in recent weeks.
However Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said while all selection decisions rested with Taylor, the club did not have a policy of blocking him from playing first grade.
“Robbie, like any other player will be assessed on his merit and what’s in the best interest of the team at that particular time,” Pascoe said on Sky Sports Radio.
“I’ve also got to stress that no player, including Robbie, is permanently prohibited from playing first grade at any stage just like no player is guaranteed of playing first grade.”
Pascoe also gave his strongest hint yet the club could move away from its traditional homes of Leichhardt and Campbelltown Ovals.
The Tigers will next year play four games at both grounds, as well as another four at ANZ Stadium, however the use of Leichhardt and Campbelltown beyond 2016 remains up in the air.
The club’s two suburban grounds face an uncertain future because of inferior facilities and lack of funds and Pascoe said the join venture’s future lay in a one-stadium policy.
The combined crowds of its four matches at both Campbelltown (37,778) and Leichhardt (48,887) were well down on that of the four games at the Olympic stadium (60,772) this year.
The NSW government has also promised to inject $1 billion into Sydney’s sporting infrastructure over the next decade and redevelop ANZ, Parramatta and Allianz Stadiums.
While Pascoe would not speculate on which stadium would be preferred as their home ground, he said the club would have to take into consideration where the government funds were being spent and which grounds offered the best facilities.