FORMER Knights coach and captain Michael Hagan knows all too well about playing through the grief of losing a parent to cancer and believes Wests Tigers and NSW hooker Robbie Farah will deal with it and rise to the occasion against Newcastle on Monday night.
Farah pulled out of the Tigers side who lost to the Roosters 42-28 at Leichhardt Oval last Sunday after his mother Sonia, 63, died of pancreatic cancer hours earlier.
He is expected to play at Hunter Stadium on Monday night in what would be his last game before he tries to help the Blues end Queensland’s six-year stranglehold on State of Origin at Suncorp Stadium on July 4.
The Tigers are yet to confirm if Farah will play against the Knights, but Hagan, a Queensland assistant coach, believes the influential rake will step up for the Tigers.
On Thursday it will 20 years since Hagan lost his father, Tom, to prostate cancer.
Knights captain at the time, Hagan learned on the night before a round-13 Sunday match against South Sydney at Marathon Stadium that his dad had died in Brisbane.
Hagan, who has had his own battle with prostate cancer, agonised over whether to play before leading Newcastle to gritty 16-12 win in the mud.
From his own experience, Hagan believed Farah would be able to focus on the Knights match and his key battle with former Blues hooker and captain Danny Buderus.
‘‘When they have been in pain and suffering for 12 months, I think as difficult as it is to go through, you think they are in a better place and that allows you to move on and get your head around what it is you need to do in your day-to-day life or in your footy,’’ Hagan said.
‘‘Obviously he’s had a lot of support from friends and family as well, and from your parents’ point of view, you would think that they’d probably expect you to get on with it. That was the attitude I took to it.’’
Hagan broke down in tears after the win and teammate Mark Sargent called the skipper’s effort the bravest thing he had ever seen.
Hagan told the Sydney Morning Herald after the game: ‘‘It was an important game for the club and to pull out so late in the day would have disrupted the operations. I know the blokes and [coach] David [Waite] would have accepted it, but under difficult conditions it would have made things even more difficult at that time.’’
Yesterday Hagan said Farah was an instrumental part of the way the Tigers played and the fact the match was a Monday night game would help him prepare for the game.
His head-to-head contest with Buderus, who was tipped to be NSW hooker before an Achilles injury struck, will be a highlight of Monday night’s match.
The seventh-placed Tigers will be out to keep pace with the top half of the table, while the 14th-placed Knights are trying to break a five-game losing streak.