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Robbie Farah has relinquished his captaincy of the Wests Tigers in an attempt to end to his stalemate with the club’s management over his future at Concord Oval.
Farah was told in August he was free to find a new club after coach Jason Taylor cited problems with their professional relationship. The NSW Origin hooker returns to pre-season training on Monday effectively on “probation”.
He received a letter in September that said his attitude and approach would be monitored over the next few weeks and a decision on whether he’ll remain in the first-grade squad would be decided at a meeting between him, Taylor and club officials just before Christmas.
Taylor said that he was happy Farah would be in attendance. “We are back at training on Monday and Robbie will be there to train up, as will everyone else,” Taylor said.
While Farah’s future is murky it was made clear in correspondence from the club’s new chief executive Justin Pascoe on September 30 that the captaincy of the team remained in question.
He was informed that as a result of Taylor’s concern the club should be looking to build for the long-term future, it had been decided that management would review the captaincy and the leadership group within the club.
Farah, a veteran of almost 250 games, and who was afforded the rare honour of being named a life member of the merged club while still an active player, made what could be interpreted as a conciliatory move by sending the email to Pascoe late on Friday afternoon.
In the email Farah relinquished his role as skipper – a position he’s said in the past was a source of personal pride – to allow all parties to move forward.
Rugged prop Aaron Woods, who at 24 has represented NSW and Australia, has previously been touted as a successor to Farah’s crown.
Regardless of who is appointed as the skipper for 2016 Farah’s offer has a two-pronged effect. Firstly, it would allow for Taylor to work with a new leader after he made it clear he couldn’t work any longer with Farah and, secondly, it would let the rake to focus on his own form.
Farah, who has $1.9 million left on his contract over the next two years, returns to pre-season training knowing there’s every likelihood he could face the ignominy of playing in the NSW Cup.
Pascoe – who assumed his role at Wests Tigers after the controversial blow-up – said while all team selection decisions rested with Taylor, the club does not have a policy that would block the 31-year-old him from playing first grade.
Farah, his manager Sam Ayoub and barrister Julieanne Levick met Taylor and club officials at the end of September so Farah could be told to his face the reasons for the way in which he’s been treated since August.
Fairfax Media understands Levick, who is also representing NRL players William Hopoate and Todd Carney in the dispute with their NRL clubs, found the reasons aired at the meeting by Taylor were based on hearsay and lacked corroboration.
The Wests Tigers were asked by Levick to explain if Farah’s behaviour was of such a concern for Taylor and the club’s management why had they failed in their duty of care to consider the player’s welfare and take the appropriate steps needed to find out what was wrong.
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