Editor’s update: Since we wrote this piece the Raiders have gone on the record to deny that Farah will be coming to the Raiders or that Sezer will be leaving. We hope this is correct.
Rumours have ramped up that the Raiders will be moving on young half Aidan Sezer to the Bulldogs and receiving ageing reserve forward Robbie Farah. These rumours have emerged from the less reputable sections of the media, as well as every damn rugby league Facebook or Twitter account you can find.
These rumours are often just the musings of player agents desperate to get their client some leverage to journalists desperate to fill some column inches. This is not the first time we’ve written about them.
Frankly I have no idea whether this deal will take place. But I can tell you this. If it does it is a short-sighted mistake.
Let’s start with letting Aidan Sezer leave. Sezer is the Canberra Raiders best half. It is not his fault Ricky Stuart insists on playing him at hooker. He is not a good hooker. He is a good half. Of the halves that the Raiders currently have on their roster, he is the only one who will start for another first-grade team. He has a solid left foot, is willing to take on the line and is the Raiders best, healthy, ball-player. He is also the only half that can convincingly tackle – for this affliction Stuart exiled him to dummy-half.
Sezer is also the Raiders youngest first grade half. It is unquestionable that he has not reached his potential in Canberra. But he is 26. James Maloney and Blake Green have played their best football in the late 20s. It’s not ridiculous to think that Sezer’s best football is ahead of him.
So if the Raiders let him go they will be giving up on a good, young half about to enter his prime. And what would they get in return for this bounty?
A back-up hooker who will likely be done by the end of the year.
Robbie Farah of the late 2000s was the second-best hooker in the game. He developed a good partnership with Scott Prince and Benji Marshall. He was part of a premiership winning side in 2005. Farah is now 34 and has not had a relevant moment in the National Rugby League since New South Wales inexplicably picked him for Origin in 2016. Farah has been dumped from first grade by two different sides over the last few years. The reason for this is he is not very good anymore.
So the Raiders would give up a good half about to enter his prime in exchange for a washed out dummy-half well past his.
If true, this move would stink of desperation by Coach Stuart. It seems based on the hope that Robbie Farah will provide veteran leadership to a side that lacks it in an attempt to remain relevant in 2018. Maybe it would sneak a few wins in 2018, but it would do so with the loss of a potentially quality young half and the stunting of the development of younger players. This is remarkably short-sighted and would merely put obstacles in the way of the development of the side for the long-term.
What makes this even more infuriating is that the Raiders have two hookers, who despite limited time with the team have shown they are more than capable than handling first grade. Siliva Havili has been one of the Raiders best this season. The only limit on his performance has been Coach Stuart’s confusing reluctance to allow him more than 30 minutes or so a game. Reserve hooker Craig Garvey has been dominating NSW Cup and surely deserve a chance to show his wares in first grade, even in a substitution role. Between the two of them they should be handling the 80 minutes the Raiders need from the number 9 position .
Oh yeah, and there’s this Josh Hodgson guy who you may have heard of. He doesn’t need a fourth backup.
Farah has undermined coaches at the Tigers and Souths, and the idea he would suddenly become a clubhouse role-model is naïve. If he comes to the Raiders, Farah will simply stand in the way of the development of Havili and Garvey, and be another obstacle in the way of the Raiders ever becoming good.
We have addressed how we would think Farah would fit in with this side before. But this was on the basis that Sezer would stay. In Sezer’s absence this would simply be the Robbie Farah show.
The way forward for the Raiders is clear – utilise the young talent you have. Play people in their actual positions. Build for 2019. This move would be the opposite – condemning the Raiders through a short-sighted move that would put obstacles in the way of developing talent, and discard a player entering his prime.
 As a Queensland supporter I rejoiced every time Robbie was picked in recent years. He would dominate the ball, hamstring the ability of the halves to direct and create, and would rarely provide good service to the Blue’s dominant forwards.