As Robbie Farah took his seat at his retirement media conference surrounded by Wests Tigers heavyweights, the larrikin hooker opened proceedings in his typical mischievous style.
- Robbie Farah will retire from the NRL at the end of the season, having reached the 300-match milestone
- Farah has played for the Tigers in two stints and was a member of the club’s 2005 premiership-winning squad
- He played for New South Wales in State of Origin and represented Australia and Lebanon at the Test level
“I am just here to let you know I have resigned for a couple of years,” Farah said before bursting into laughter.
After reaching the 300-match milestone last Friday, Farah said his body could not handle another season in the taxing game of rugby league.
“This is the opportunity to go out on my own terms, that hasn’t always been the case,” he said.
“I am playing good footy, I wouldn’t want to go a year too long and my body break down. We’ve got young hookers at the club, they’d go past me and I wouldn’t want that.
“Now the time is right, the club is in good hands, I am just ready.”
Farah is driven by his workhorse mentality, which is why he has not missed a match for the past three years.
“At times he’s worked 24 hours a day just to play,” Tigers coach Michael Maguire said.
“During State of Origin, his brother was there treating him every moment he wasn’t training.”
Robbie Farah career*
- Wests Tigers: (2003-2016, 2018-2019) – 274 games, 67 tries
- South Sydney: (2017-2018) – 26 games, 2 tries
- NSW City Origin: 6 games
- NSW State of Origin: 16 games
- PM’s XIII: 5 games
- Australia: 8 Tests
- Lebanon: 7 Tests
- Dally M Hooker of the Year: 2007, 2010
* Stats current as of round 19, 2019
Over Farah’s 17-year career he has played 16 seasons with the Tigers since his 2003 debut.
He almost missed out on his fairytale ending when he was dropped in 2016 by the Tigers’ then coach, Jason Taylor, before switching to South Sydney.
His time at the Rabbitohs included stints playing for their reserve grade team, the North Sydney Bears.
“Three years ago when I left (the Tigers) I was in tears, I thought my career would end playing reserve grade at the Bears,” he said.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be back here and I can retire now content.”
Farah is a fan favourite and the love has always been reciprocated.
“Everyday the boys make a joke that I actually live up in the scoreboard, so I’ve got a kettle up there and some biscuits,” a smiling Farah said.
“The fans and members, the love they show me is the reason I got out on the field every week.”
Farah wants to inspire young kids
Farah tasted success early in his career, helping guide the Tigers to the 2005 premiership with a win over North Queensland in the grand final, while he also looked back fondly on his 16 State of Origin appearances for New South Wales.
“When we finally won that (State of Origin) series in 2014, having worked so hard to win it, that was a massive moment,” he said.
Farah has also been a proud representative player for Australia and Lebanon.
“To captain Lebanon at the World Cup, playing for Lebanon is as proud a moment as playing for Australia.”
Farah said he wanted to show young Australians of Lebanese heritage anything was achievable if they put their mind to it.
“A lot of them think it’s not possible, but it is,” he said.
“A lot of them come up to me with dreams to play NRL and that makes me very proud.”
Tigers yet to re-visit ambassadors role
The Tigers remain tight-lipped on whether Farah will take up a controversial ambassador’s role it offered him in retirement, but he joked he was up for it after having “done the crime”.
The agreement, worth $639,000, was the centre of an NRL-imposed fine earlier this year and resulted in salary cap sanctions handed to the club, as well as a suspension given to chief executive Justin Pascoe, who has since returned to his role.
“We haven’t had a conversation about that,” Pascoe said.
“That will take place after the next 10 weeks. The focus now is finals.”
The Tigers are 11th on the ladder and desperate for a finals berth to send Farah out on a high.
Farah leaves big shoes to fill, but 22-year-old Jacob Liddle has been preparing as his understudy.
“I am really impressed with how Liddle is developing, this year he’s been able to sit in behind Rob and I saw him do that at Souths with Damien Cook,” said Maguire, who also coached Farah at the Rabbitohs.
While Farah would love to leave the game with longtime teammate Benji Marshall, the Tigers were hopeful the mercurial half would stay on for another season.
“He’s (Marshall) had a conversation with Madge (Maguire), he wants to play on,” Pascoe said.
“But we haven’t started any conversations. Those will be done behind close doors.”