Rabbitohs hooker Robbie Farah tells you, our Members and supporters, in his own words about his 250th NRL game and takes you back through his career.
I’m the youngest of four boys so I always had tough love growing up from my brothers especially one brother in particular, David. He used to always tell me I couldn’t do things and it spurred me on to prove him wrong. I remember he used to always tell me I would never play first grade and my whole goal was to prove him wrong. He even said he would give me a thousand bucks if I played NRL as a teenager.
I still remember being told I would be making my debut. It’s obviously something you dream of as a kid and you set goals for it and I remember I set myself a goal of playing NRL while I was still a teenager and that was something that really drove me. It was 2003 and I was 19 years old.
I played Jersey Flegg in 2003 as captain of the Balmain side and that was when Jersey Flegg was only an eight round season so it was a short season. After that I played a reserve grade game on the Sunday. We had another midweek game on the Wednesday night and on the Saturday morning I got called into NRL training. I didn’t think much of it because at the time Tim Sheens would bring young kids in to join in with training just to gain some experience. But this time was different. I remember 'Sheensy' called me into the change rooms before training and his words were "Mate, I am thinking of playing you tomorrow but you can’t wear those white boots."
At the time I was probably one of the first kids to wear white boots. Everyone used to wear black boots. I replied to Sheensy saying: "I’ll wear whatever you want, I don’t care" and then we went out to training. I remember finishing training and the first person I called was my brother David and asked him what he was doing. He said ‘Not much’ and I said ‘well you better hurry up and get to a bank because you owe me a thousand bucks!’ The next person I called was my Jersey Flegg coach David Kelly who was a great mentor for me. At that time it was too late to get new boots the day before the game so I went home that night and coloured in my white boots with a black texta. I made my first grade debut the next day and it was a day I will never forget.
Since then there have been plenty of ups and downs and I guess you learn as a person and a player from them. Rugby League in general is just the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. While we love what we do, it’s also pretty difficult what we do. There are some tough times and things you have to deal with, it’s not all fun and games, but I guess the tough times make you appreciate the better times even more. I debuted in '03 but only played seven games in my first two seasons. I had a couple of serious injuries including an ankle injury that kept me out for five months then a knee reconstruction at the start of '04.
I came back in '05 and played my first game in reserve grade. From then I played every game in first grade up until the Grand Final. Not in my wildest dreams did I think I would win a Grand Final at the age of 21 so that was the best moment of my career. To win a premiership, there is nothing bigger, and to do it at such a young age it was an amazing experience. But at the same time to win one so young and not get the chance to play in one since, obviously that hurts you too. You kind of miss that feeling and it makes you realise how hard it is to win a competition whereas at the time I thought I would get another chance and didn’t appreciate how tough it was. However I am lucky enough to have won one.
Origin is something I love so much, I remember watching it as a kid. I still pinch myself now thinking that I’m running out there playing Origin, vice-captain of New South Wales, captain for two games. Some days I still have to pinch myself because it doesn’t feel real, it feels like a dream.
Joining the Rabbitohs Family
I felt really comfortable coming here. The boys have been great and the Club’s been great making me feel welcome so the transition for me was really easy. Even before my first day with Souths I felt really comfortable. It was the off-season and we weren’t training but 'Madge' (Michael Maguire) put me into contact with a few of the boys and they were straight on the phone to me. They added me into the WhatsApp group straight away, we were catching up for training sessions on our own, catching up for coffee and lunch, so for them to accept me straight away was something that made me feel really comfortable. For me to come in here day one of training it already felt like I was a part of the group and having so many familiar faces around here for me made the transition really easy. Obviously my brother (Head Physiotherapist Eddie Farah) and Kenny (Physiotherapist Kenny Michalopoulos) are two people I knew, Harry Harris was someone I have known for a long time and David Furner is a coach that I’ve had in the Australian side for many years and toured with him.
One of the reasons that made me decide to come here was the affiliation I have with the Club through external sources. Obviously not myself because I was a Tigers junior but my family grew up in Redfern around the corner from here, my Dad was always a Bunnies fan and I’ve got so many close friends that are tragic Bunnies fans, I can’t even tell you how diehard they are. To see their passion for the Club and how they support the Club made me want to feel like I wanted to be a part of it as well.
To pull on that jersey, I took great pride in that. Obviously the Rabbitohs are a Club with a very rich and proud history and are also the most successful Club in Rugby League history. When you come to a place with such rich history and to think of the players that have pulled on that jersey before you it just makes you want to do the colours proud.
Obviously me coming here I had a point to prove, but I just wanted to not only make my family proud and myself proud but to also make the fans and past players and everyone involved at the Club proud as well.
My 250th game was my first win in a milestone game. I lost my debut, I can’t remember if I lost my 50th or not, it was a long time ago but they are saying that I did. But I definitely lost my 100th, 150th and 200th so to get a win was really good but more so than the win, just the occasion.
I can’t thank the Club and Madge enough for what they did to make it such a special day for me and my family. They were under no obligation to do that for me. I know I’ve only been here for such a short time. The facts are that I played 247 games at another Club and only three here but the way the Club treated me, it made it out like I had played the majority of my games here and that’s something I will never forget.
Madge brought my Dad in the day before the game to present my jersey to me and that was a complete surprise. That was a pretty emotional moment I will never forget and my father will never forget too. To have my whole family at the game and have them there in the sheds as we ran out and then afterwards, regardless of the result it was a special day for those reasons and to get the result on the back of that was just the cream on top as well.