Robbie Farah has brushed off suggestions Laurie Daley can’t pick him as NSW’s No.9 if he is not Michael Maguire’s preferred starting option at club level.
NSW’s longest serving player after the representative exit of Paul Gallen is facing increased pressure to maintain his spot with the Blues given an interrupted pre-season and the emergence of teammate Damien Cook, who has again been given run-on duties for the Good Friday clash against the Bulldogs.
But a bullish Farah, a 16-game State of Origin veteran, claimed his game time had not been reduced since shifting to the bench and he had a track record of relishing the big stage.
“For you guys it’s kind of a big deal [coming off the bench], but for me it hasn’t,” Farah said. “Other than the number on my jersey [my role hasn’t changed]. Coming off the bench I’m still playing the same amount of minutes.
“In terms of minutes or match fitness, I don’t think any of those things matter when it comes to Origin. When you’re out there you just do what needs to be done and you can’t let anyone down and I’d like to think I’ve never done that in the past.”
Penrith veteran Peter Wallace, Gold Coast rake Nathan Peats – who will play his first match of the season on Friday night – and Cook have been touted as potential threats for Farah’s spot.
But the 33-year-old is more focused on helping the Rabbitohs climb the NRL table, which he argues will further his Blues cause.
“[The speculation] is part of the theatre,” Farah said. “A lot of it I wouldn’t say is unwarranted, but it’s irrelevant.
“A lot of things can change in the next six weeks. You’ve got injury and form. You can’t get caught up thinking about Origin otherwise it’s just going to affect what you’re doing in clubland.”
Farah combined with new clubmate Adam Reynolds during the first two losses of last year’s series and the pair’s increased familiarity at club level may sway Daley’s thinking this year.
Reynolds’ disjointed start to the year featured a bout of appendicitis and the No.7, who missed NSW’s only win of the series last year through injury, conceded he would tinker things if he was given the nod in 2017.
“[It was] obviously a learning curve on how Laurie and the coaching staff wanted us to play,” Reynolds said. “There’s definitely positives and some things to learn. No doubt if I got the opportunity again I’d play a bit differently to last time.
“The hunger’s always there. I loved my team there last year and I’d love another opportunity. If you’re playing well you’re half a chance.
“It was a bit disappointing not be there [for game three]. I wouldn’t say it was disappointing seeing them win. I loved seeing them win. All the boys that you form friendships with celebrating at the end was definitely a special moment.
“It gives us the belief and the momentum going into [this year] we can win the series.”