Less than four months after being told he would be exiled into reserve grade, former Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah has been guaranteed the number nine jumper in round one of the 2016 NRL season.
On the same day Aaron Woods was ushered in as the new captain, the old one was given a stunning appraisal of his pre-season by coach Jason Taylor.
Asked whether he would assure Farah his cherished No. 9 spot next year, Taylor said: “Absolutely.
“He’s trained well enough to make that decision his own. It’s been his position. I don’t see any reason why that will change between now and the start of the season.”
It is a full 180 from the club’s stance back in late August, when the 31-year-old was threatened with a demotion to NSW Cup should he not find a new team to play for.
A switch to the Sydney Roosters beckoned when Farah formally requested a release from Concord just four weeks ago.
However after months of drama and speculation, the impasse between Farah and Taylor is seemingly over after the premiership-winning hooker endorsed Taylor’s appointment of Woods, after Farah himself had been appointed to the leadership group.
“I talked to Robbie just before this meeting about how he was feeling about an announcement,” Taylor said.
“We talked about the fact that it was not only going to be Woodsy, but how he felt about the announcement, whether he was having any second thoughts.
“But he was really comfortable with it.”
Woods admitted that the Farah saga had weighed heavily over the club during the start of pre-season.
“It’s good we got over that. It was hanging on the club in the pre-season but we’ve moved on from that and we’re moving to bigger and better things now,” he said.
More laid back and relaxed in nature, Woods, who immediately sought Farah upon learning of his promotion, said his captaincy would be far different to that of his “pretty intense” predecessor.
But the 24-year-old said he wasn’t afraid of putting his foot down when needed, even if it was to stand up to his long-time teammate.
“He’s not that hard to control. You guys make it out as if he’s pretty hard,” Woods said.
“He’s one of my best mates. We always talk with each other the way mates do and we’re honest with each other so if we think he’s stepping in too much or if he’s taking too much control we’ll talk to him.”
Veterans Chris Lawrence and Dene Halatau were also introduced as vice-captains.