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Herbie credits 'massive' Burgess lead as England calls

Broncos flyer Herbie Farnworth has credited the trail blazed by the Burgess brothers for inspiring his England dream after being named in the squad to prepare for next year’s World Cup.

The 20-year-old grew up in England and watched as Sam, George and Tom Burgess won a premiership with South Sydney in 2014 and became England regulars.

"The Burgess brothers were massive," Farnworth told NRL.com after coach Shaun Wane announced his selection in the England squad on Thursday.

"Me and my uncle Brian used to go down and watch Tommy Burgess play for Bradford and then he came over here, trained hard and won a grand final. He showed that you can do it coming from England and make it in the NRL.

"Sammy was the one that led the way with it all and is one of the greatest forwards ever but the one I had personal contact with was Tommy Burgess.

"The main goal is to represent your country and that has always been a dream of mine. Hopefully I can keep playing well for the Broncos, play some decent footy next year and lead-in to the World Cup."

Broncos v Dragons - Round 15

Wane spoke to Farnworth after the Broncos win over the Bulldogs last month to tell him he was in the frame.

"He said he’d been speaking to Seibs [Anthony Seibold] and keeping track of me, and that I had been going well. Shaun didn’t guarantee anything but it was nice to be put in the squad today," Farnworth said.

A former Manchester United academy player, Farnworth has played for England Under 16s and Wane believes he could force his way into the team for the World Cup at the end of the 2021 season.

"I’ve been watching quite a bit of Brisbane - I’ve watched every NRL game numerous times - so I have seen Herbie Farnworth play," Wane said.

"He is a great talent and will put a bit more pressure on our centres, which is great.

"Herbie is young and will have time to develop into one of the leading candidates for World Cup selection.

"I'd need to see more from him but the glimpses I've seen are very encouraging. His size and athleticism are very impressive and I can see him pushing very hard for a centre spot next year."

Farnworth joins Canberra’s John Bateman, Elliott Whitehead, Josh Hodgson, George Williams and Ryan Sutton, South Sydney prop Tom Burgess and Sydney Roosters winger Ryan Hall as NRL-based players in the England high performance squad.

St Helens forward Morgan Knowles was also added to the squad after switching his allegiances from Wales to England and Wane views him as a long-term replacement for veteran Wigan second-rower Sean O’Loughlin.

Herbie Farnworth with his fan club The Knights of the Broncos table.
Herbie Farnworth with his fan club The Knights of the Broncos table.

Farnworth, who can play anywhere in the outside backs, represented England under 16s against France in Perpignan in 2016 where he scored two tries, including a 90-metre solo effort from fullback, and was named man of the match.

It was a performance that kick-started his Broncos career.

In August that year he moved to Brisbane with his uncle, former Wigan Warriors legendary development coach Brian Foley, and hasn’t looked back.

"That game for England was in the Easter time, then I came out here for trials in the summer and signed with the Broncos 20s,” Farnworth said.

"I rang uncle Brian this morning and I think he already knew about my selection

"I wouldn’t have done what I have without Brian. He’s been by my side all the way and I have trained pretty much every day with him since I was seven or eight years old."

With Foley back in England the duo still do training drills via the What’s App program. 

Seibold to rejoin Broncos on Tuesday

Farnworth has a fan club at the Broncos who are known as ‘The Knights of the Broncos table’ who gather each week to cheer him on.

When he re-signed with Brisbane for two more years the ‘Knights’ got T-shirts made with Farnworth and ‘Two More Years’ plastered over them.

One of the group’s highest profile members is Dennis Knight who once did security for Wayne Bennett and has been a rusted-on Broncos supporter since its inception.

He is better known as a singer and entertainer and has sung many a song with Allan Langer after premiership wins in the past. Knight is a close friend of Farnworth’s.

"Herbie has worked hard through the summer and winter and even when he goes home to England, and we are one hundred per cent behind him," Knight told NRL.com.

"He has proven what he is capable of and we believe he will play for England, and it all started here at the Broncos.

"I met Herbie and his uncle Brian when he first came to Brisbane at the Broncos barbecue and since that day all of us ‘Knights’ have become close friends with him.

"We got our T-shirts made to give him a lift and make him realise he has good mates outside the bubble. All I have got to do is sing 'Ferry Across the Mersey' for Herbie now.”

Farnworth said the ‘Knights’ had been a huge lift to him.

"It is real nice. I have probably known Dennis the longest and when I first came out here when I was 15 he used to cook the burgers on the Broncos barbecue with Springer [trainer Tony Spencer]," Farnworth grinned.

Broncos turn pressure into points through Farnworth

"Dennis got his crew together and I love talking to them all after a session about things away from footy. They keep in good contact with Brian so it is good having chats about my family.”

Farnworth’s selection gave the Broncos a massive boost before Friday night’s home clash with the Dragons.

"That is really special for him and thoroughly deserved,” said stand-in coach Peter Gentle.

"If you come down here any day that we aren’t training he is out there with training with poles and balls.

"From a very young age he wanted to be a footballer and his family thought him being over here was his best opportunity to realise that dream and if that culminates in selection for his country that is fantastic."