SURELY only the sensationalists and Robbie Farah devotees could have faked surprise at the dumping to reserve grade last week of the Tigers hooker by his coach Jason Taylor.
When Taylor sacked him as skipper at the end of last season and announced to the world that Farah would be playing reserve grade in 2016, the writing was patently on the wall.
And while the pair supposedly kissed and made up, Farah hasn’t been an indispensable member of the Tigers’ outfit since.
He has played just half of their 18 matches, started in six and come off the bench in three. And with Farah in the team, the Tigers have won only three.
My point is that Farah, unlike Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen, Daley Cherry-Evans and several other elite players, is by no means a match winner.
Yet at almost $1 million a season plus $90,000 for three Origin appearances, he is being paid like a player who needs to be the heart and soul of a team. And his demeanour, on and off the field, suggests Farah is not that.
While many acted surprised that Taylor last week bit the bullet and followed through with his off-season edict, Farah isn’t the first big name to be dumped. And he isn’t the first player to return from Origin to a “Dear John” welcome.
That scenario occurred after the very first Origin game in 1980, and it happened to the man who was an icon back then and an Immortal now.
Arthur Beetson, the player who put meaning into the word Origin as skipper of Queensland when the concept kicked off, played reserve grade for the Eels five days later.
He was 35 years old and his good mate Johnny Peard, in his only season coaching the Eels, obviously felt the big fella could not back up after such a sterling performance for the Maroons.
And Dennis Tutty, a one-season coach at Balmain, apparently thought the same about his halfback, Greg Oliphant. Also heroic for Queensland in that landmark win, he went back and played reserve grade for the Tigers.
Others have returned to the bush to play. Also in 1980, Queensland Origin second-rower Rohan Hancock played the following weekend for his Warwick club side Wattles. Test hooker Greg Conescu had a season with Gladstone Brothers and still played Origin, while Phil Duke, who is cruelling remembered for an Origin mix-up with Phil Sigsworth, went back to Moree after his lone appearance on the big stage.
So there is no need to shed tears for Robbie Farah, especially considering he is still being paid about $40,000 a game, irrespective of the grade he plays.
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