BY CURTIS WOODWARD
The unthinkable happens in just a few short months. Bicep injury permitting, Robbie Farah will run out for round one of the 2017 season in a match involving Wests Tigers.
However he won’t be in the black and orange of Wests Tigers but the cardinal red and myrtle green of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. The once beloved hero becomes the enemy or vice versa depending on where you stand. The clock runs down. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Time is the great healer but not in this case. It’s round one on a Friday night. It’s all so very raw – especially to Farah.
Rest assured it’s only January but as we near kick-off, the stories will fill our news feeds. Farah versus Wests, Farah versus Jason Taylor, Farah versus the new breed of Tigers, redemption, revenge, justification. We’ll get them all and that’s the way it should be. Television ratings will be through the roof and then some.
While it may not reach the heights of Sonny Bill Williams and his return bout with Canterbury-Bankstown in 2013, Farah against Wests Tigers is still a blockbuster. If SBW against the Bulldogs was Star Wars, Farah v Wests Tigers is Jaws.
But there is another blockbuster we’re yet to see.
Jarryd Hayne is still to face the Parramatta Eels.
Round three, 2017 at Cbus Super Stadium, mark it down as the night Hayne collides with the blue and gold army for the first time in history. In a cruel twist of fate for rugby league fans around the country, Hayne will never set foot on the old Parramatta Stadium due to its redevelopment. What an occasion that would have been. We’ll then have to wait for round 24 and the return leg where the man that won two Dally M’s as an Eel comes to Sydney as a Titan to play his old teammates. But that’s only if the Eels don’t blow it and shift the match to Darwin as part of their deal with Northern Territory Tourism. If they move the match, they’ve got rocks in their head. 7000 fans in Darwin or 30,000 in Sydney?
And we're off and 🏃 🏃 🏃 for 2017. The guys are back and have hit the training paddock 🏉👏☀️💪 pic.twitter.com/VHrPRpZ25o
— Gold Coast Titans (@GCTitans) January 4, 2017
— Parramatta Eels (@TheParraEels) January 3, 2017
Send someone up there. Newcastle, Melbourne, Cronulla, anyone but Jarryd Hayne.
The former San Francisco 49er has been confirmed for the Auckland Nines, NRL All Stars match and a trial against the Warriors in Palmerston.
It will be a busy year for Hayne who will almost certainly be selected for both New South Wales in State of Origin and for Australia at the World Cup.
“Plenty of players have improved at the back end of their careers.’JT’ (Johnathan Thurston) has been sensational, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, these guys are past 30 but at the top of their games,” Titans coach Neil Henry told The Daily Telegraph last year.
“Darren Lockyer went out on top of his game. Some guys can mature, get wiser and play smarter. Hopefully Jarryd is one of them and has his best footy ahead of him.
“He has high standards. He has aspirations to play on the big stage, wants to play Origin and is hungry to play in that environment.”
But before all that, Hayne has a date with the Eels.
A match just as big as Farah versus Wests Tigers.
If only Parramatta Stadium was the backdrop.