A bitter feud has erupted between Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah and Gorden Tallis over claims by the former great that Farah had told him Mick Potter ‘‘can’t coach’’.
Potter received what possibly amounted to a stay of execution on Sunday night when the club released a statement to say his contract negotiations would be put on hold until the side’s 2014 campaign had come to an end.
On a day when Paul McGregor tried to push his own case for the St George Illawarra job long-term, the Tigers’ board met after the loss to the Dragons after Potter requested direction on his future.
In an attempt to ease the pressure on Potter, the board released a statement saying negotiations would be put on hold until the end of the season.
With Potter facing the sack after two years in charge of the Tigers, Farah and Tallis became embroiled in a heated text message exchange after Tallis aired the allegation on Triple M on Friday night and he went further on Sunday after being challenged during an interview with Farah’s manager Sam Ayoub.
‘‘Robbie Farah told me to my face when I was on Triple M last year on a Saturday show, he told me that Mick Potter can’t coach,’’ Tallis said.
‘‘I don’t go on Chinese whispers, I go on what he told me.’’
Ayoub did not deny Farah may have made the comments, saying: ‘‘That was correct last year but his opinion has changed. That was 12 months ago.’’
Tallis, who had not previously revealed who told him Farah’s opinion of Tallis, responded by saying: ‘‘Robbie is now telling me to get my facts right when the facts come out of his mouth. That’s what he told me. So Robbie has now changed his mind. I said Robbie your silence [on Potter] is deafening. You are their best player, you are their captain, you are their most powerful player, get in behind your club’’.
Farah and Tallis again clashed after Sunday’s match at ANZ Stadium when the Tigers skipper refused to be interviewed on the field at full-time, with witnesses saying he was so angry that teammate Aaron Woods had to intervene.
Afterwards, Farah again denied making the comments about Potter and hit out at Tallis at the post-match press conference.
‘‘I’m not happy about it and he knows I’m not happy about it,’’ Farah said.
‘‘It’s completely false. I don’t have to sit here and justify myself and Mick’s relationship. We’ve got a job to lead this club and we’re doing the best we can. Some people out there need to go and get their facts straight before they want to run their mouth off.’’
Asked if he wanted Potter to remain as head coach, Farah shot back: ‘‘Mick’s got the support of the whole playing group and will continue to have the support of the playing group. That’s never been an issue. Mick knows that, the players know that and we’ve got on with business as we showed last week [against the Bulldogs].’’
However, Farah admitted the constant speculation he was behind the push to oust Potter had affected his performance in the 28-12 loss to St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium and he held a 20-minute meeting with Potter in a private room before kick-off.
‘‘It affected me but we have got to be stronger than that, me and Mick, as leaders and not show that it is affecting us,’’ Farah said.
Potter said: ‘‘It was to do with the press and we had to cover that. It was affecting Robbie so I had to address it and I did that. I thought it was best to be done in private so I did that. Robbie, I thought, had a really good game and tried his ring out for the club and the team and he proved he is a leader of a group of men’’.
Asked if the decision about Potter’s future could have been handled better by the Tigers management, Farah said: ‘‘It hasn’t been good for anyone’’.