Wests Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer has moved to clear the air with disgruntled captain Robbie Farah, saying: "If I've done anything wrong by him, I'm the first to apologise."
It remains to be seen whether Farah will return to training today after taking stress leave over allegations he was behind a push to have coach Mick Potter ousted.
The club has been under fire for its handling of several issues, including contract negotiations with Potter and claims Farah did not receive sufficient support following his public spat with Gorden Tallis.
Mayer has copped much of the heat, particularly after Farah's post-match comments supporting Potter ended up on the cutting-room floor when the footage was posted on the club's website.
Mayer opened up about his relationship with Farah, the decision to delay a decision on the coach and his own future at the Tigers.
"We're obviously concerned for Robbie, we're keen to get him back as soon as possible," Mayer said.
"We're more than happy to support Robbie and the entire playing group where and when needed. If there are some issues, I'm happy to sort through them with him and his manager.
"Robbie Farah, who is feeling upset, I really feel for him. If I've done anything wrong by him, I'm the first to apologise. But we need him back at training, he's very much a part of our team, he's our captain and he'll be here for another three years. We need to focus on footy."
Mayer described suggestions Farah was being used by the club as a scapegoat over the coaching situation as "absolutely ridiculous" and took responsibility for the video drama.
"Yes, it was a mistake and as CEO I put my hand up. But it's been rectified," Mayer said. "The reality is it was a press conference and channels 7, 9 and 10 and a whole range of press were there. I'm sure that story got out in the appropriate media channels.
"In regards to getting a statement [of support for Farah] out there, there were two statements - one went out from the board on Sunday night and a second one from me personally on Monday morning. Again, I'm disappointed he thought it was too late but I was very vocal in my support for Robbie and the fact I believe he has been very harshly treated.
"Robbie has told me he wants to be here and I've told him and his manager that we as a club want him here. For me, as a starting point, that's a great way to mend any issues that may well be there.
"I honestly believe we all have to move on now and put the focus back on winning football games. We are still a very strong chance to make the semi-finals. Our captain is an integral part of that. We need him there, I want him there, the coach wants him there and his teammates want him here.
"I have no doubt that he'll be out there on Monday with his teammates to support the Simon Dwyer event."
There was speculation Potter would be sacked and replaced by assistant David Kidwell last Sunday, but the board resolved to hold off on a decision until the end of the season.
Asked if it was a stay of execution, Mayer said: "We're working with Mick every day in regards to this football team, we're giving him every chance of success. The one universal thing about Mick Potter is that he's universally liked, he's one of rugby league's great men.
"The decision on the coach has nothing to do with the CEO. There has been a lot of misreporting on that - it's a decision for the board. The board have the complete authority to appoint the CEO or the coach. Any other speculation around that is fundamentally wrong.
"While I understand it's tough, Mick Potter is not the only person off-contract at this club. There are other players, coaching staff and administration staff. We understand what he wants and we're going to work with Mick.
"Nothing has happened. He hasn't been told he's out. He's just been told we're going to delay the decision until the football season is over and then work through it. We want to focus on footy.
"All of this discussion on contracts is unhelpful and Mick himself is happy to wait. The board are trying to do the right thing without being dictated to by outside pressures."
Mayer said there were frustrations about the delays in finalising the club's governance structures but was confident the club was heading in the right direction.
"My own position? I'm the CEO of a football club, we have a certain shelf life," he said. "I'm a realist, I've been around long enough. Whilst I'm in the job I'll give it my 100 per cent effort. I take a lot from my experiences from the Bulldogs and Manly.
"I was at the Bulldogs during tough times, the salary-cap issues in 2002 and Coffs Harbour. I was at Manly during Brett Stewart [allegations, which were dismissed] and all the issues on the board. I understand how tough you need to be to ride these things out.
"The one thing you need to have on your side is the belief what you're doing is right. The board and myself know we are doing the right thing."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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