Embattled Wests Tigers player Robbie Farah will remain at the NRL club in 2016 and could still be the team’s first-choice hooker, according to coach Jason Taylor.
The former captain was given permission to look elsewhere in August and was reportedly told he would play reserve grade if he stayed at the club.
But Taylor now says the issue is “75 to 80 per cent” sorted.
“Robbie’s decided that he is going to remain with the club and I’m comfortable with that and we move forward,” Taylor told radio 2UE’s Sports Today program.
“We’ve been working pretty closely over the past couple of weeks. A lot has been said in the past but the point is Robbie will stay on board this year and I will coach Robbie well and we’ll work together well.
“Robbie and I have had some good discussions and we will continue to do that. I’m not saying that it’s sorted out 100 per cent. I’m saying that it’s sorted out 75, 80 per cent and we’ll keep working together.”
Farah’s position in the team was brought into further question in October when he stood down as the club’s captain, while the Tigers also signed fellow 80-minute hooker Matt Ballin from Manly.
However, Taylor now says Farah will be given the opportunity to prove his worth in the pre-season to keep his spot.
“The facts are that Robbie will be considered for a position in the team every week and there is no reason that he won’t be the starting hooker in round one,” Taylor said.
“We’ve signed Matt Ballin, Matt Ballin has a knee injury and so, if Matt’s not right to play in round one, then Robbie could be, and even if Matt is right, Robbie Farah could be our starting hooker in round one.
“Every player in the club is going to be given the opportunity to show they deserve their starting spot, whoever it is.”
Taylor also said the decision on Farah was not isolated to the hooker, with Keith Galloway, Matthew Lodge, Pat Richards and Martin Taupau all released from the club with time to run on their contracts.
“Some tough decisions have had to be made; the Wests Tigers have been sitting at the bottom for too long,” he said.
“I’m comfortable we’re going to have really good competition, and I’m comfortable with the way Robbie has turned up and the way he has applied himself, so it’s just going to make for great competition for positions.”
Taylor’s comments come in light of Tigers’ NSW State of Origin prop Aaron Woods saying he had been impressed with Farah’s efforts at the beginning of the pre-season.
“Robbie is a world-class athlete. I have never seen someone as fit and mentally strong as Rob,” Woods said.
“He is that fit and you wouldn’t even know he has had any problems in the off-season.
“He has come back to training and he has been one of our best trainers and I wouldn’t expect any less from Robbie.”