Wests Tigers Coach Jason Taylor spoke to the media on Thursday about the decision not to play Robbie Farah in the Club's NRL team on Sunday against the Dragons.
Wests Tigers confirmed last night that Farah would not be in this week's NRL team, with the hooker to play in the Club's Intrust Super Premiership team this week on Saturday.
See the full press conference in the video above with the full text below.
* * * * *
Can you explain your reasoning behind the decision to drop Robbie Farah?
The reasoning is about creative players in our team and the cohesiveness of our team in regards to our attack. It’s something that I’ve been looking at across the course of the season. I have concerns about our cohesion in attack when we have creative players in the halves and a creative dummy half. Looking at our recent games when Robbie has been in and out of the team but majority out of the team compared to games earlier in the season, we’ve seen the team play with more cohesion and more fluency. That’s the reason for the decision for this week’s game.
Is it a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth?
Absolutely. We’ve got too many cooks spoiling the broth, 100 percent. That’s the perfect analogy of what we’re talking about and it’s purely based on that. Robbie Farah is the New South Wales Origin hooker, a Wests Tigers great — he’s a great player but it’s just not working for us at the moment in regards to our cohesion as a team. I’m still not comfortable with where we are on the ladder. In my opinion we should be further up the ladder with the squad that we’ve got. I’ve been brought here to get this team going in the right direction and some tough decisions have to be made. I know this is a tough one, it’s really tough for Robbie but I believe it’s in the best interests of the team and it’s based around team performance. It’s not individual performance; it’s based around team performance and what I believe is the absolute best case for us for this week’s game in regards to team performance.
Why the timing JT, why wait until now?
Well, I wanted to look closely at it and as I say because over the last seven games, Robbie has been in for two but out for majority due to Origin. That gave me an opportunity to look closely at what I’m talking about. When I look back at the previous games and looked at how the team had flowed in this more recent period, then we get to this point where we made the decision.
You threatened to drop him to reserve grade last year, was this always on the cards considering it seemed you wanted him out last season?
The cohesion bit has been something that I have been concerned about and been looking at for a while, but its only been on the back of the way the team has played in the last seven games that we have gotten to a point that I believe we are going to be better with Robbie not in the team. We moved him to the bench to enhance that cohesion again and I believe that it did that but I’m comfortable taking that next step now because I do think it’s in the best interest of the team and us performing at our absolute best. The young guys have taken over our team — they’ve taken great control of our team. They’re really playing well — the team is coming together really well and when I say young guys I mean right across the board. We’ve got young players in lots of positions — we’ve got a young captain and they’ve really developed in those areas and I want that to keep moving forward and I see this as the best way.
You’ve been here 18 months — why do you think that these players haven’t been able to get that cohesion though? Why hasn’t the combination worked?
Well I think that’s why we’re at this point because we’ve worked hard on trying to get to the point where I believed it’s as good as it needed to be, but we haven’t been able to do that in that time. That’s why we get to such a big decision, such a decision that is really tough and I’m sure hard for some people to understand. But that’s what we’re at that position because we’ve worked on this for 18 months and we haven’t got to the point where I’m comfortable with the cohesion and the way the team is developing. We gave Robbie and Woodsy five days off after Origin so they weren’t required into the building until yesterday. Tuesday was a day off for everybody and I didn’t want to firstly ask Robbie to come in on his last day off during his time away, Woodsy was still away up the coast and I wanted to communicate the decision to Robbie clearly and the decision to the whole team clearly before anybody was given the information. To do that on Tuesday when everybody was away was not good for us. I understand how it looked but it certainly wasn’t me hiding away from anything. If we were training on Tuesday we would have named the teams as if they were going to play but the team was not training, Robbie was on leave and I just thought it was unfair — just put too much pressure on everybody had we gone that way.
What happened when you told him?
We had a good discussion, went through some footage of some our games just with some examples of what we’re talking about and then we had a decision Obviously Robbie’s very disappointed — very disappointed. I’ve had a chat to him this morning and his attitude is he’s going to get on with it and with a smile on his face and that’s really great to hear.
Were you aware of the plans for the 250th celebration at Leichhardt Oval?
There’s no doubt that I’ve been aware that Robbie was getting close to that but this decision is based on what’s best for the team and I think anyone would understand this is a professional sport — we cant be putting individual milestones ahead of what we think is best for the team. Right at this point in time, we’re going to have to be good between now and the end of the year but we’re in with a shot at getting ourselves into the semi finals for the first time in a while, so I just don’t think anyone would expect individual milestones to be put ahead of that.
Is this the end for Robbie Farah at the Wests Tigers?
This is a decision about this week’s game. Robbie will be considered for selection every week going forward.
Do you think he will be here for next season?
Robbie’s got a contract for next season so we’re expecting him to be here, at this stage yes. We’ll get through this weekend’s game, and we’ll assess. This has not been an easy decision and we haven’t jumped into this really quickly, but that’s where we are now.
What about the young halves, are you getting the same feedback from them?
This is my decision, and I think it’s really important that people don’t think that those guys have been voicing issues to me. Its how I see the team playing, it’s how I see the game plan being executed and it’s solely down on me making this decision based on what I’m seeing and how the team runs. I just want to make sure that its clear that this isn’t based on individuals having issues. The players really support Robbie, and I want them to support him through this time.
So how do you want your dummy half to play?
That’s a good question; we’ve got creative halves and we’ve got a fullback that we want to get the ball in his hands, so we want the ball off the deck most of the time. The hard part about that is asking a player like Robbie who is instinctive to go against those natural instincts is really difficult. We’re at that point where I’m not comfortable with the way it’s worked and the way it’s working.
How did the rest of the playing group take it when you told them?
They were obviously a bit shocked about that decision. But this is professional sport and nobody is guaranteed a spot in the team and my message to them was about how the team runs, how everyone has a role in the team, how we all need to know our role and play our role in the team and if we are unable to do that, how our position will be under pressure. As I’ve said, we’re not where we want to be on this ladder, we want to move up the table. If that’s a bit of a shot across the bow for all of the guys that you need to perform to make sure that you stay in the team then I’m comfortable with that because that’s the message I want to send to the team that pressures on and we need to perform.
Fans are confused, one week he’s NSW hooker and now he’s in reserve grade playing against Newtown?
There’s a really simple answer for that, and that is Laurie Daley is the origin coach and I’m the Wests Tigers coach. They are two different teams. I could argue that New South Wales went into the last Origin with two five-eighths, without an organising halfback. If that’s what our team looked like, then a creative dummy half would fit well. They’re just two different teams and we’re two different coaches — we have different game plans. It’s not confusing for me; I could understand how it could be for other people — but they’re two different teams, two different game plans and two different coaches.
Do you bring a guy like Jacob Liddle or Manaia Cherrington in?
Jacob’s unable to play so that’s not an option for us. We’ll work out how we will replace Robbie, and that’s not an easy thing to do. But what we’ve seen is that the team has run more smoothly with a dummy half that’s not necessarily a specialist. But as I say, that’s not to rule Robbie out of our team in the next few weeks. This is a big step; we need to see how it goes. When I talk about team performance, its not just wins and losses. I’m talking about the performance of our team in regards to cohesion and the way we play across the course of 80 minutes, about the understanding of everyone knowing where the ball is going to go and everyone on the same page.
You started the season with a lot of specialist hookers and now have none in the team, could you have envisioned that at the start of the year?
No, not at all. That’s been difficult for us but we’re working our way through it. We’ve slowly moved up the ladder the last few weeks and we want to keep that going.
After last year’s talk around Farah, how has it more prepared you for today?
I think the biggest thing is just trying to be honest with you guys and tell you the details. There are some things out of respect of individuals that need to be kept private and that’s why I’m trying to be really clear of the performance of our team. I understand why people would be confused but it’s purely performance. I hear so much about this feud — we talk everyday training is on Robbie and I communicate with each other. I just want to be really clear this is about team performance.