Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor says Robbie Farah has a future at the club despite the 247-game veteran being dropped to reserve grade.
Farah - who has one year to run on his contract - was originally named on the bench to face the Dragons in Round 20 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, but will instead take on the Newtown Jets in the Intrust Super Premiership on Saturday.
"The reasoning is about the creative players we have in our team and the cohesiveness of our team in regards to our attack," Taylor said.
"It's something that I've been looking at across the course of the season and I have concerns about our cohesion in attack when we have creative players in the halves and a creative dummy-half.
"Looking at our recent games when Robbie has been in and out of the team – but the majority out of the team – compared to games earlier in the season, I've seen the team play with more cohesion and more fluency and that's the reason for the decision for this week's game."
With young halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses starting to take more control of the Tigers' attack - and James Tedesco asserting himself as an ever-present threat out the back - Taylor said he wanted a dummy-half to complement the trio, rather than a dominant No.9.
"What we've seen is that the team has run – in my opinion – more smoothly with a dummy-half who may not be a specialist dummy-half, but whose role is to get the ball where it needs to go to," he said.
"We've got too many cooks spoiling the broth. That's the perfect analogy of what we're talking about. And it's purely based on that.
"Robbie Farah is the NSW Origin hooker, he's a Wests Tigers great, he's a great player, but it's just not working for us at the moment in regards to the cohesion of our team.
"I'm still not comfortable with where we are on the ladder. In my opinion we should be further up the ladder with the squad that we've got.
"I've been brought here to get this team going in the right direction, and tough decisions have to be made.
"I know this is a tough one, and it's really tough for Robbie, but I believe it's in the best interests of the team and it's based around team performance, not individual performance."
Taylor clarified why he decided to drop Farah despite naming him in the original 17-man squad on Tuesday.
"We gave Robbie and Aaron Woods five days off after Origin. They weren't required to come into the building until yesterday," he said.
"Tuesday was a day off for everybody and I didn't want to ask Robbie to come in on the last day off of his time away.
"I knew Woodsy was still away up the coast and I wanted to be able to communicate the decision to Robbie clearly. I wanted to be able to communicate the decision to the whole team clearly before anyone was given the situation. To do that on Tuesday when everybody was away was not going to work for us.
"I understand how it looked, but it certainly wasn't me hiding away from anything. If the team were training on Tuesday, we would have named the teams as they were going to play, but the team wasn't training, Robbie was on leave, and I just thought it was unfair and it would have put too much pressure on everybody had we gone that way."
Taylor said he explained his reasoning to Farah who was understandably "disappointed" with the decision.
"We had a good discussion and went through some footage of some of our games with some examples of what we're talking about, and then we had a discussion," he said.
"I've had a chat to him this morning and his attitude is he's going to get on with it and he's going to do it with a smile on his face. That was really great to hear."
Had Farah played this weekend, he would have gone head-to-head with former teammate and fellow premiership-winner Benji Marshall in the Dragons halfback's 250th game in the NRL.
It's a milestone Farah would have reached in three weeks' time in a replay of the 2005 grand final against the Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval.
"There's no doubt that I've been aware that Robbie was getting close to that, but this decision is based on what's best for the team," the Wests Tigers coach said.
"I think anyone would understand this is a professional sport. We can't be putting individual milestones ahead of what we think is best for the team.
"We're going to have to be good between now and the end of the year, but we are in with a shot at getting ourselves in the semi-finals for the first time in a while.
"I just don't think anybody would expect individual milestones to be put ahead of that, so the best team for this week's game has been chosen.
"This has not been an easy decision, and we haven't jumped into this decision quickly, but that's where we are now and we'll see how we go this weekend.
"This is a decision about this week's game and Robbie will be considered for selection every week going forward."
Taylor said he had received no directives from the playing group, and revealed the rest of the squad was shocked by the announcement to drop the club legend.
"This is my decision, and I think it's really important that people don't think that those guys have been voicing issues to me," he said.
"It's how I see the team playing, it's how I see the game plan being executed and it's solely down to me making this decision based on what I've seen and how the team runs.
"The players really support Robbie, and I want them to support him through this time."
Taylor said Jacob Liddle would not play due to second-tier salary cap restrictions, but the club confirmed Manaia Cherrington would be available after returning from an ankle injury.
This article first appeared on NRL.com