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Herbie Farnworth in pre-seaason training with the Broncos.

From Manchester United to the Brisbane Broncos, via rugby league skills training with six poles with his uncle Brian Foley on a village green in the north of Lancashire.

That's the unique journey 19-year-old outside back Herbie Farnworth has taken to professional rugby league and he is "loving every minute of it".

Farnworth, an athletic fullback signed with Brisbane until the end of 2020, was a standout on the wing in the 42-0 win over Souths-Logan last week and will line up in the same position against Wynnum-Manly on Saturday night.

A talented soccer player as a youth, Farnworth was that good he caught the eye of one of the world's glamour clubs.

"I was with Burnley to start with and then I signed with Man United. I signed there for two years as a young fella of 10 and 11 and I’d go to camps and train with them,” Farnworth said.

Herbie Farnworth in action for Norths Devils.
Herbie Farnworth in action for Norths Devils. ©QRL Media

"I was either a centre-midfielder or left wing. Then I had a talks with Manchester City but I wanted to focus on my rugby league."

At that stage Farnworth had been training every day since he was eight years old with his uncle Brian Foley, the legendary Wigan talent identifier and development coach who helped produce many of the Warriors' greatest stars.

"Everything I do well is because of Brian, and everything I don’t is probably because of my own thinking. He has been really good to me," Farnworth said.

Foley told about the extraordinary story surrounding the "six training poles" that developed the prodigious skills Farnworth possesses.

"Herbie is from an isolated village called Blacko in what you could virtually describe as rural England in the top of Lancashire, bordering on Yorkshire," Foley said.

"In isolation Herbie trained virtually with only myself, so the six poles have either been obstacles, players, markers, goal posts... anything you wish. We had to use our imagination and it has helped him with his footwork, agility and speed.

"We’d stick them on the village green and train. When he was 11 he wanted to come down to Wigan with me but he was tied up with so many other sports, including soccer with Man United's junior set-up."

Farnworth’s school entered a hybrid tag rugby competition in Lancashire with 690 schools and were the champions, with Farnworth starring.

"Then we went down to Wigan and he played league there. When he was 14 he was taking it pretty serious and then, through contacts, we came out to Australia and he played at the Burleigh Bears. Nothing was planned. Things just developed from there,” Foley said.

Payne's not going to walk back into the team

Farnworth caught the eye of Broncos talent scouts at Burleigh after playing league for Wigan St Pat’s and in St Helens for Newton Storm.

"[Broncos recruiter] Peter Nolan and [Elite Development Squad manager] Simon Scanlan picked me up from there, and then I went back and played for England against France in under 16s," Farnworth said.

"Then I came back to the Burleigh Bears and played under 17s when we won the Gold Coast premiership. Then I signed with the [Broncos] 20s and had two years there and signed for the first team last year. I’m on a rookie contract this year and move up to top 30 next year.

Broncos captain Darius Boyd.
Broncos captain Darius Boyd.

"It is a chance of a lifetime to be at a club like the Broncos. It is the biggest club in Australia, even the world. It has been a short journey in league but I have definitely loved it. I’ll just keep learning.”

Farnworth, who will continue to play for Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup this year if not required by the Broncos, said Darius Boyd had been a massive influence on his development.

"I look up to Boydy heaps. He’s taken me in and helped me out with my fullback play and talks to me privately. He’s been real good to me ever since I got here," Farnworth said. "He doesn’t have any weaknesses in his game, a real class player all-round." com has seen Farnworth and Foley doing extra skills sessions at Red Hill on his days off.

Foley, now retired, is in Australia to support his nephew.

"I’m just here to support him and I am happy to see him progress. He’s got potential, and the rest is just about development and time," he said.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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