South Sydney hooker Robbie Farah will be one of the biggest names to participate in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Fifteen years after making his international debut for Lebanon,
the former Australian Kangaroos representative will be looking to guide the Cedars to their first Rugby finals appearance.
Born in Sydney to Lebanese parents, Farah played his junior football at Enfield Federals and Leichhardt Wanderers. It was here that he first caught the eye of the nascent Lebanese national team, making his international debut in 2002 at just 18 years of age.
“I first went back to Lebanon when I was a child with my mother and my sister,” said Farah. “2002 was the next time I went back. First and foremost we were there on a footy camp… but after the game myself and a few mates stayed back for a couple of weeks to go and see family and explore the country.”
A year later, in 2003, Farah began his NRL career at Wests Tigers, and by 2005 he had cemented his place as the starting hooker. Soon he became a poster boy for the game. Roy Masters, the legendary Western Suburbs coach turned Sydney Morning Herald columnist, wrote that he “epitomises the game's stoic, relentless, self-sacrificial soul.” Now a veteran of the NRL, Farah, 33, hopes a strong showing at the World Cup will highlight the best aspects of the vibrant Lebanese-Australian community.
“There’s a massive responsibility on our shoulders in this campaign to not only provide a positive impact both on and off the field,” said Farah.
“There are times when the Lebanese community get a bad rap in this country, but there are a lot of good things that Lebanese people do, whether it be in politics, entertainment or sport.
“Hopefully we can give some young Lebanese kids aspirations and dreams to grow up and really achieve something in sport, or whatever it may be.”
Farah has won an NRL premiership with Wests Tigers, played 16 State of Origin matches for NSW and eight times for Australia — his country of birth. As one of the senior statesmen of a new-look Lebanon side, his experience will be vital as the Cedars come up against powerhouse nations England and Australia. Lebanon begin their campaign against France on Sunday 29 October at Canberra Stadium.
“Lebanese people are passionate,” said Farah. “I think you’ll see a lot of that come out in the World Cup.”
Lebanon’s RLWC2017 Pool A Fixtures:
Lebanon v France, Sunday 29 October, Canberra Stadium
Lebanon v England, Saturday 4 November, Sydney Football Stadium
Lebanon v Australia, Saturday 11 November, Sydney Football Stadium
RLWC2017 tickets start at just $10 kids/concessions $20 Adults and $45 for a family of four. Available now from rlwc2017.com