Farah, Tigers drama proof that loyalty in the NRL is a two-way street
Surely, this is a sign that we’ve seen the end of the one club player.
As Robbie Farah looks set to reconcile himself with the fact that he will not be wearing a West Tigers jersey next year, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the importance of foresight in the NRL, for players and clubs.
A player spending his career with one club is a romantic notion, that’s fast becoming antiquated. We’re seeing two opposing forces of the salary cap at play.
The first has to do with the brevity of a player’s career. Players are more aware than ever that their careers are short, and their last contract is often perceived as an opportunity to get once last big payday. As a result we have seen the emergence of long term deals back-ended by huge payments in the final years.
Which is all well and good if your team is playing well. But if the results aren’t there someone has to cop the blame. The second force at play is when clubs don’t achieve the desired results, and feel compelled to change things up. This could mean a change in direction, a change in management, or a change in personnel.
These forces can’t coexist and it’s no secret that the West Tigers are in this situation where they have to do something drastic to improve upon the results next year. And it looks like they are going to do it at the expense of Farah.
Whether Farah is entirely to blame for the Tiger’s form in 2015 is irrelevant, and you can’t blame them for taking steps towards a better 2016. By the same token though, the club’s handling of the situation has been poor to say the least.
Previous management should take some of the blame for putting the Tigers in such an unenviable position where they will probably have to fulfil part of a $900,000 a year contract to see Farah play for another club.
And Farah himself perhaps should have exercised some foresight when signing the initial deal, if staying at the club really was his number one priority. But that’s no reason for the Tigers to make outlandish statements suggesting Farah will be playing reserve grade if he chooses to remain at the club.
Suggestions that there may be other factors in play here remain, particularly because it just shows how bad a deal this may end up being for the Tigers. Farah still has plenty of good footy in him and he will end up playing for a direct rival.
In the end of the day it might be best for both parties if they part ways, and considering the way it’s been handled you can’t imagine Farah staying at the club. But it will provide a cautionary tales for fans, juniors and players looking to secure their futures – another reminder that the notion of a one-club man is departing.
Billy Slater signing a two year contract with the Melbourne Storm is a proof that in some instances an element of loyalty remains. But this requires shrewd organisation from the people making the decisions at the club, and the players.
There’s no getting around the salary cap. It’s going to catch up to you eventually.