Souths’ Seibold defends no Farah NRL start

South Sydney have named Damien Cook as starting hooker for the Rabbitohs’ NRL season opener.South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold has defended his decision to overlook veteran Robbie Farah in his 17-man line-up for their NRL season opener.
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In his first major call as a rookie coach, he has opted to start Damien Cook at hooker against the Warriors on Saturday with Farah only named on an extended bench.

Seibold insisted Farah remained a major part of his plans for this season.

“If South Sydney are going to have a consistent year this year, then Robbie’s an integral part of that,” Seibold said on Tuesday before his team left Sydney for Perth.

“If you look at the better teams in the competition last year and the last few years, they’ve had some depth in key positions.

“We’ve made a decision about this weekend and we think this weekend against the Warriors it’s best for us to have an 80-minute hooker.”

Seibold said he wanted more flexibility on his bench instead of a second hooker, and that he would review his game plan after their opener against a powerful Warriors side.

He feared losing an outside back to a concussion during matches and wanted coverage.

“If you look at our first couple of games in the trials, we had two outside backs go down with HIAs and we had another three outside backs go down injured,” he said.

“Unless you’ve got coverage and flexibility on your interchange bench, you leave yourself short.

“It wasn’t a Cookie versus Robbie thing. It was more should we have (Farah’s) experience on the bench this week, or go with a player who’s got a bit more versatility?”

Seibold admitted it was a difficult call to make, however maintained he had been open about his desire to begin with a sole hooker to open the season.

“Cookie came into pre-season, from day one, has really impressed. I think he’s been particularly good in the first two trial games,” he said.

“Anyone who’s watched our games would’ve seen that he’s a real threat out of dummy half, defensively he’s worked really hard at improving that area and he’s added a kicking game also.

“Robbie Farah game back after the Lebanon trip with a real renewed vigour. He’s been really enjoying his footy during the pre-season.

“It’s obviously a big call between those two but we’ve always said since day one, I’ve been really transparent that we’ve wanted to transition to one hooker.

“I think it’s best for our team, particularly for us going into the early games here.”

Seibold also confirmed skipper Greg Inglis (knee) and halfback Adam Reynolds (ankle) would be certain starters to take on the Warriors.

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