Jason Taylor has been sacked as Wests Tigers coach and this time Robbie Farah can't be blamed
This time, they can't blame Robbie Farah.
Eight months ago, Jason Taylor decided it was time to ungraciously push the Tigers captain and club legend out the door, out of Concord and over the edge of the cliff.
"I believe we're going to be better with Robbie not in the team," Taylor told reporters, chest puffed out, emboldened by the support of the Tigers board. "We've got too many cooks spoiling the broth in regards to the cohesion of our team."
Taylor has every right to determine the squad he coaches and he was bang on, too … as the 46-6 loss to the Raiders on Sunday and the 36-2 loss to Penrith the Sunday before that clearly showed.
Imagine if they had the NSW hooker – the hooker the club is still paying $750,000 to play elsewhere – on the field? Could've been a disaster.
When the news broke just after lunch on Monday that the Tigers board had unexpectedly sacked Taylor just three matches into the season, the first person many weary fans thought about was Farah.
READ MORE: Wests Tigers sack coach
He wasn't answering his phone but those close to him say he was hardly skipping around his new home at Redfern Oval singing Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!
Farah played his 250th match on Saturday but it wasn't for the Tigers, his beloved club, but South Sydney.
Understandably, he was left feeling hollow by Taylor's sacking.
All that heartache, all that BS, that defiant can of beer sitting up there beneath the old scoreboard at Leichhardt Oval … and for what?
So, in the absence of Farah, fingers had to be pointed elsewhere for Taylor's sudden demise and many of them were being pointed at leading player manager Isaac Moses.
He manages the so-called Big Four – captain and prop Aaron Woods, fullback James Tedesco, five-eighth Mitchell Moses, halfback Luke Brooks – and they all come off contract this year. Indeed, another masterstroke from the club: having your top four players coming off contract at the one time. Pure genius.
Two weeks ago, on NRL 360, Woods threw out a line about wanting some certainty around Taylor – who was also coming off contract this year - before re-signing and the media pounced on it like dobermans, as they should.
Moses also represents Todd Payten, who is an assistant at the Cowboys but also the successful former under-20s coach at the Tigers who many of the players adore and respect and many wanted as coach after Mick Potter was sacked.
He is also the player manager club bosses loathe but players respect because of his ability to screw out every last cent for them. He represents some of the biggest names in the game, headed by Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith, and is close to NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg from their days working at ANZ Stadium.
The suspicion is that Moses is holding a gun to the head of the Tigers' board, trying to work out what's best for all of his clients and for him. I've never known a player manager to do any different.
He refused to comment when contacted on Monday so he couldn't shed any light on his position but surely the Tigers board or whoever is in charge of signing players there are watching the same game as the rest of us.
Because if they are watching the same game, they should see that Woods is a bankable forward worthy of a contract befitting a NSW Origin captain of the future. They should also see that Tedesco is the NSW fullback of the future, although one who is injury-prone.
And if they are really watching the same game as the rest of us they will see that Moses and Brooks are boys playing against men.
Potential and promise is one thing, and that comes with a handy price tag.
But playing finals footy, winning finals footy, playing in rep sides is another thing altogether and neither have achieved any of that to be demanding salaries over $500,000 a season.
So, if Issac Moses isn't to blame for this disaster at the Wests Tigers, then who is?
Maybe the coach, who was sacked as Souths coach following his infamous Karate Kid impression in front of David Fa'alogo during Mad Monday celebrations.
He came to Concord and promised to bring a hard defensive edge to the side. The last two matches speak for themselves, although in fairness he had to deal with a Tim Simona gambling saga he never saw coming.
When the disgraced centre revealed in The Sunday Telegraph that he'd been snorting cocaine with teammates during Mad Monday celebrations, it rocked the squad on the day of the match against Penrith.
If Taylor isn't entirely to blame, then, perhaps it's chief executive Justin Pascoe.
Early into his tenure at the Tigers, Pascoe was warned about the pitfalls of keeping Taylor.
Promises were made about ensuring Farah would be safe; that he'd be treated with respect.
As the deplorable events of last season unfolded, and Farah was told on the eve of his 250th match that he was being dispatched to NSW Cup, Pascoe fell silent.
"We're not going to allow this organisation to drift again," Pascoe declare at a media conference late on Monday.
Drift? The Tigers went out with the tide months ago.
The chief executive, though, is answerable to a board, and on that count it must surely be time for change.
It's understood the club is now paying about $1.2 million for players and coaches who are no longer there: $750,000 to Farah, about $200,000 for Curtis Sironen and now $250,000 for Taylor.
The Tigers have now sacked three coaches in five years. They fell for Taylor's spell, chose him over a club legend on the promise of change, and have now decided to sack him after just three matches.
If the conspiracy theorists are correct, and they've sacked a coach and sided with a player manager in a desperate bid to keep their biggest names, it will go down as the most sickening display from a board in recent history.
So maybe the people at the very top are to blame. And, for a change, they can't blame it on Robbie Farah.
- Sydney Morning Herald