A bitter feud has erupted between Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah and Gorden Tallis over claims by the former great that Farah had told him Mick Potter "can't coach".
With Potter facing the sack after two years in charge of the Tigers, Farah and Tallis became embroiled in a heated text message exchange after Tallis aired the allegation on Triple M on Friday night and he went further on Sunday after being challenged during an interview with Farah's manager Sam Ayoub.
"Robbie Farah told me to my face when I was on Triple M last year on a Saturday show, he told me that Mick Potter can't coach," Tallis said. "I don't go on Chinese whispers, I go on what he told me."
Ayoub did not deny Farah may have made the comments, saying: "That was correct last year but his opinion has changed. That was 12 months ago."
Tallis, who had not previously revealed who told him Farah's opinion of Tallis, responded by saying: "Robbie is now telling me to get my facts right when the facts come out of his mouth. That's what he told me. So Robbie has now changed his mind. I said Robbie your silence [on Potter] is deafening. You are their best player, you are their captain, you are their most powerful player, get in behind your club".
Farah and Tallis again clashed after Sunday's match at ANZ Stadium when the Tigers skipper refused to be interviewed on the field at full-time, with witnesses saying he was so angry that teammate Aaron Woods had to intervene. Afterwards, Farah again denied making the comments about Potter and hit out at Tallis at the post-match press conference.
"I'm not happy about it and he knows I'm not happy about it," Farah said. "It's completely false. I don't have to sit here and justify myself and Mick's relationship. We've got a job to lead this club and we're doing the best we can. Some people out there need to go and get their facts straight before they want to run their mouth off."
Asked if he wanted Potter to remain as head coach, Farah shot back: "Mick's got the support of the whole playing group and will continue to have the support of the playing group. That's never been an issue. Mick knows that, the players know that and we've got on with business as we showed last week [against the Bulldogs]."
However, Farah admitted the constant speculation he was behind the push to oust Potter had affected his performance in the 28-12 loss to St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium and he held a 20-minute meeting with Potter in a private room before kick-off. "It affected me but we have got to be stronger than that, me and Mick, as leaders and not show that it is affecting us," Farah said.
Potter said: "It was to do with the press and we had to cover that. It was affecting Robbie so I had to address it and I did that. I thought it was best to be done in private so I did that. Robbie, I thought, had a really good game and tried his ring out for the club and the team and he proved he is a leader of a group of men".
The speculation that Potter would be sacked after the game upset many Wests Tigers fans, who vented their anger at the club on radio and social media. Asked if the decision about Potter's future could have been handled better by the Tigers management, Farah said: "It hasn't been good for anyone".
However, he insisted the players had tried to stay out of the process and Ayoub said the Tigers skipper had told chief executive Grant Mayer six weeks ago he didn't want any involvement in the decision about the coach.
Ayoub said: "Robbie directly went in Grant Mayer's office five or six weeks ago when they started talking about a review and he said to Grant Mayer 'I have a responsibility at this club to help lead these young blokes through. All I want to do is concentrate on captaining the side, I don't want any say or input into what you do with the coach. Our job is to play and your job is to administer and make decisions about coaches so leave us out of it'."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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