Wests Tigers NRL fans need not despair, skipper Robbie Farah is confident there’s life after Benji Marshall.
But he admits it won’t be easy.
Farah, a newly-crowned world champion, arrived back in Sydney this week with a spring in his step and says he noticed a quiet air of confidence about the Tigers as well.
“I went in and popped my head in and everyone’s looking fit and healthy and training really hard,” the Kangaroos star told AAP.
“There’s going to be a few changes next year, obviously. Some new recruits coming in, some new assistant coaches, and the boys are really enjoying it.”
With no Marshall, though, for the first time in a decade, Farah acknowledges the Tigers face a tough transition trying to transform themselves from near-wooden spooners in 2013 to title contenders in 2014.
“Without Benji, obviously it will be difficult at first,” he said.
“But we’ve got to move on. I think we’ve accepted that.
“But he’s definitely big shoes to fill and whoever jumps into the six jumper has a massive job to do – but I’m confident they can do that.”
It certainly won’t be Tim Moltzen jumping into Marshall’s place any time soon, with the luckless playmaker set to be sidelined for up to six months after breaking his left kneecap last week.
Moltzen’s latest serious injury follows a second knee reconstruction earlier this year on the same leg.
“It’s terrible luck,” Farah said.
“He was training really well from all reports and coming back from that knee reco that he had earlier this season.
“But this is another major setback for him and one I’m sure that’s very shattering for him.”
The Tigers will also be without dual international Lote Tuqiri.
Farah, though, says the club has a readymade replacement in 2005 grand final hero Pat Richards, who returns after a long stint for Wigan in the English Super League.
“Lote gave us a lot of experience out there, but Patty Richards has come back in from England and he’s a very experienced player and goalkicker as well,” Farah said.
“Benji was our goalkicker so Patty will come in and be our goalkicker as well. He’s a different threat for us out on the wing with his size and his speed.”
After regularly being rated among the pre-season favourites but failing to deliver, the Tigers are refusing to talk up their title chances in 2014.
“It’s a bit early in the year to sit down and talk about goals,” Farah said.
“This year was difficult with the amount of injuries we had and we really struggled to handle that.
“But hopefully next year we can have a decent run with injuries and have a decent season.”