Robbie Farah could make a shock return to Wests Tigers, giving the veteran hooker a chance for a more fitting farewell at the club where his career began.
Fairfax Media can reveal Farah has reached out to Tigers coach Ivan Cleary about the prospect of coming back to the joint-venture outfit before the June 30 transfer deadline. The deal would only be until the end of the season and it's likely his current side, South Sydney, wont stand in the way.
A comeback could provide Farah and another prodigal son, Benji Marshall, a perfect note to retire on together if they can steer the Tigers to a drought-breaking finals appearance.
There is still some groundwork before the deal becomes reality. Given the acrimonious nature of his departure, a final decision would have to go to the board for sign off. Some powerbrokers still need convincing after Farah fell out with several influential figures, including then coach Jason Taylor.
But with Taylor gone and the Tigers in need of a spark to get their finals ambitions back on track, Farah will likely get the support required to finish in the black, white and orange.
The Tigers have been unable to settle on a replacement hooker since Farahs departure. They have used – with varying success – Pita Godinet, Jacob Liddle, Elijah Taylor, Matt McIlwrick and Josh Reynolds during their 2018 campaign. While McIlwrick has been given the nod for Sundays clash with Canberra, insiders believe the chances of making the semis will increase if a player of Farahs experience is in the spine.
The two-time Dally M hooker of the year has made only two appearances for South Sydney this season after Damien Cook won the race for the No.9 jersey. Farahs most recent Rabbitohs appearance was in round 14 when Cook was unavailable due to State of Origin duty. While Souths would prefer to keep Farah around for the representative period, there is little point begrudging him an NRL opportunity in his twilight in order to keep him in reserve grade with feeder side North Sydney.
Farah is one of the most polarising figures in Wests Tigers history. He has made 247 appearances for the club, including the 2005 grand final victory against the Cowboys. The former skipper never wanted to leave, but there was pressure to move him on be
cause the final years of his contract were heavily back-ended. The result was Farah spent his finals days at the Tigers in reserve grade, with the club having to heavily subsidise his contract at Redfern.
Some fans were happy to see the back of him, believing he was a divisive influence during his last, turbulent years at the Tigers. Others will welcome back one of the clubs favourite sons with open arms, hoping he will this time receive a more fitting farewell.
Some Tigers officials had reservations about signing Marshall from the Broncos, unsure whether his best football was behind him. However, his return proved to be a masterstroke, particularly after injury prevented marquee recruit Reynolds from participating in the opening rounds.
There is a feeling Farah's signing could have a similar effect. The 34-year-old has been in reasonable touch for the Bears and his class could prove the difference in a tight finals race. His great mate Marshall is yet to make a call on his future, raising the prospect of the pair bowing out together at the end of the year.
Farah is unlikely to be the last addition to the Tigers team before the June 30 deadline. Canterbury fullback Moses Mbye has signed a four-year deal with the club beginning next year, although Cleary is keen for him to transfer immediately. The clubs are finalising a release that is amenable to all parties and Saturday's clash with the Titans will be Mbyes last in blue and white.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.
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