Blacko's Herbie Farnworth is first Englishman to retiurn to professional rugby after pandemic

Former former Blacko Primary School pupil Herbie Farnworth was the first Englishman to return to professional rugby overnight, coming on in Australia's NRL in Brisbane Broncos' 34-6 defeat to Parramatta Eels.

By Chris Boden
Friday, 29th May 2020, 10:05 am
Updated Friday, 29th May 2020, 10:06 am
Herbie Farnworth of the Broncos attempts to break away from the defence during the round three NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium
Herbie Farnworth of the Broncos attempts to break away from the defence during the round three NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium

The 20-year-old outside back, who officially signed for the Broncos in 2017 after spending three summers in the capital of Queensland’s capital with various youth teams and Brisbane's elite squad, came on after 54 minutes at the Suncorp Stadium, as the NRL returned to action after the coronavirus pandemic, behind closed doors.

In March 2016, Farnworth made his England Under 16 debut in a two-test series against France.

After a game-saving tackle in the first test, he was named man of the match in the second after a stunning solo try in the second Test, in a 28-20 win.

Sign up to our daily Burnley Express Today newsletter

Farnworth could have been a footballer, having been with Burnley as a youngster, before spending two years at Manchester United as a youngster.

However, he focused on rugby league, plahying with Wigan St Pats and in St Helens for Newton Storm, where he came to the attention of Brisbane scouts.

Last season he made his first grade debut last season, and he played in the first two rounds of the NRL this term before the lockdown.

And he is on the radar of England coach Shaun Wane, with the World Cup to come next year: “I was aware of him a long, long time ago when he was at Wigan St Pat’s.

“I was told about him by various people and watched a bit of footage on him - he was rising up the ranks playing really well and the next thing we heard he was going to Australia to sign for Brisbane Broncos.

“It’s very impressive what he’s done and how he’s gone about it. He’s a great athlete and an outstanding player.

“As an outside back he has good hands, a good catch and pass and he’s tall and athletic.

“His fundamental skills are what impressive me most - people can look at the flashy side, which he’s more than capable of, but I want my players’ fundamentals to be good.

“He’s a great talent now and to be pushing for a starting spot at Brisbane Broncos is very impressive at his age.”