Robbie Farah has been assured of starting in Wests Tigers’ NRL clash against Cronulla on Saturday, ending coach Jason Taylor’s curious three-hooker experiment after just one game.
Former skipper Farah was a late withdrawal from the starting line-up in last week’s shutout loss to Parramatta, joining back-up rake Manaia Cherrington on the bench as veteran utility Dene Halatau was sent out as rake in the run-on side.
Taylor on Friday defended his decision to protect NSW hooker Farah, playing in his season debut, from the opening exchanges against the Eels, but confirmed he would start against the Sharks at Campbelltown Stadium.
“There was a lot of talk about that, but just keeping him out of that first 15 minutes, that was the right decision,” Taylor said.
“We were really comfortable with that. It’s tough out there at the moment.
“Robbie was asked to make a lot of tackles in a row and he and I have chatted about it – he’ll be much better for the run and he’s ready to go from the start of the game this week.”
Farah came on midway through the first half against the Eels, but was again substituted for Cherrington at a crucial junction late in the game.
Taylor said Farah accepted the decision.
“He’s fine. He understands this is a team. It’s a team game and everyone’s doing their bit for the team, and that’s part of it,” Taylor said.
Halatau will start in the second row this week, with Cherrington again on the bench.
Prop Tim Grant was also cleared to play after failing to finish the match against the Eels due to a first-half concussion.
Taylor said Grant, who was a late arrival from South Sydney over the summer, had been impressive over his first month at the club and his direct play was missed against the Eels.
“He would’ve definitely straightened us up in the second half,” he said.
“He’s really been a real positive influence on the guys and our halves, just in regards to their composure in their game.
“Not having him there – we missed that. He’s been a great addition to our squad and we want him out there this weekend to have that influence.”