GLENN JACKSON June 18, 2012
A disappointing loss was placed into the context of a devastating loss yesterday. After the mother of Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah died just hours before he was due to play against Sydney Roosters at Leichhardt Oval, the players were distraught and the coach unwilling to talk trivialities.
''To talk about the game and this, that and the other thing just seems a waste of time to me,'' Tigers coach Tim Sheens said. ''It's certainly not something I am particularly interested in.''
Nearby, his players were still shattered. Sheens, as well as centre Beau Ryan, addressed them after the match. Many of them had been visibly emotional during a moment's silence for Sonia Farah, who had lost her battle with pancreatic cancer around lunchtime.
Farah withdrew from the contest yesterday morning after being told his mother's condition was deteriorating. He text messaged some teammates, including five-eighth Benji Marshall, about an hour-and-a-half before the game to inform them his mother had died. Marshall, who lost his own father, Mick Doherty, to pancreatic cancer in 2009, was reduced to tears during the moment's silence.
''We just had to try to shut it out and get through the game,'' Sheens said.
''It's easier said than done. Obviously you have your friends and close friends, and a lot of them are close friends with Robbie. It's a close club and the team will all be upset for Rob and his family.''
Sonia Farah's death came just days after her son had been lauded for his performance in State of Origin II at ANZ Stadium. Farah made 63 tackles - an Origin record - not knowing his mother had been unable to attend the match because she had been taken to hospital on game day.
Sheens admitted he had not been faced with a scenario like the one he did yesterday, of the players being forced to deal with a game-day tragedy.
''Beau [Ryan] spoke really well on behalf of the players form the point of view that we were tight, we would stick together and get Robbie through it,'' Sheens said. ''He was pretty upset, everyone was pretty upset. At the end of the day we have to face the fact we have to get on with life this week for us. As I say, the main aim for us anyway is to support Robbie. In the short term it's not about next week now, it's about Robbie this week and the family.''
The death affected his opponents, too. Roosters captain Braith Anasta, whose own mother Kim has battled breast cancer, said he knew something was wrong when Farah did not attend the pre-match coin toss.
''I did it with Benji and even he wasn't himself,'' Anasta said. ''I thought 'this is strange'. Then Smithy [coach Brian Smith] told me and it knocked me. I felt sick before the game for him and his family. I know how tough it must be for them. No one else really knew about it in our team. I just felt for him. It's tough.''
Tigers chief Stephen Humphreys said Farah, and the other players, would be offered support this week.