Sticky situation … Ricky Stuart and Robbie Farah could link up once more at Parramatta. Photo: Getty Images
WESTS TIGERS skipper Robbie Farah is weighing up an offer to link with his NSW coach Ricky Stuart at Parramatta as the dramas escalate at the joint-venture club.
The news came as The Sun-Herald was told the Tigers could soon be forced to name coach Tim Sheens as their director of coaching instead of sacking him because they can't afford the $1.2 million required to terminate his contract.
The drama doesn't end there as the Wests Magpies - a 50 per cent stakeholder in the merged club - are monitoring Balmain's ability to honour all of their joint financial commitments considering they're millions of dollars in debt.
The suggestion Farah would join Stuart at Parramatta was mentioned when Stuart signed on to rebuild the Eels in July. It has gathered momentum during the week after the club cut three of its most popular players - Chris Heighington, Beau Ryan and Blake Ayshford.
Observers at the recent Brad Fittler Medal presentation, which acknowledged Farah as the NSW team's best player this year, noted Stuart spent a large proportion of the evening engaged in deep conversation with the star No.9.
Parramatta's interest in signing Farah is common knowledge among Wests Tigers players, one of whom said Stuart wanted Farah because he was the type of player needed to add steel to this season's wooden-spooners. The player, who asked not to be named, added it would be ''shambolic'' if the Tigers lost their inspirational skipper. ''The Eels are going really hard to sign Robbie but I can't say what he's thinking because I don't know,'' said the player.
''I can say this: if he goes it will be a bad blow because he's the leader of our team and a senior player. Despite everything that has gone on, we'd like to think the club would do everything they possibly can to keep him here.''
The player cull exposed a number of deep-rooted issues that were raised as a boardroom meeting was staged to discuss sacking Sheens as:
❏ Sheens has lost the support of his senior players;
❏ The recruitment of Braith Anasta and possibly another veteran in Brent Kite was questioned when emerging talent such as Ayshford was released;
❏ Rumours that Lote Tuqiri's first two injury-riddled years at Wests Tigers cost $900,000;
Adding to the drama was news from another insider who said if the 61-year-old Sheens had not found a new club by tomorrow he could be named as the director of coaching and ''pushed upstairs''.
Former Balmain back Matt Parish, former Wests halfbacks Jason Taylor and Peter Gentle and former Dragons hooker Nathan Brown have been mentioned as possible replacements for Sheens while former Test skipper Brad Fittler has been cited by some board members as a potential assistant coach.
Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys confirmed a decision on Sheens's future was expected within days. ''It's our intention to move as quickly as we can but we need to get it right,'' he said. ''Even if that takes an extra day or two.''
He was adamant the club had every intention to uphold the commitment made to Ryan earlier in the year. ''There is no reason why Beau [should have] felt that the agreement we reached wasn't going to be honoured,'' Humphreys said. ''We are all saddened he's moving on but rather than continue the rhetoric on it, it's best if we moved on.''
Wests Magpies director Rick Wayde said the state of Balmain's finances should soon change the perception about who was the dominant partner in the merger. ''Balmain people might then need to ask, 'Wests, can you help us? There's a huge [financial] burden at the moment,'' Wayde said. ''There's an element who'd like to pay [Sheens] out but they can't come up with the money … and Balmain couldn't come up with their half of the payout at this time.''