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Pearl takes shine to rough diamond: Wigan connection helps Herbie

Steve Renouf has put up his hand to mentor Broncos centre Herbie Farnworth to assist the development of a rising star he believes has a huge future in the game.

Coincidentally, at the same time the four-time Brisbane premiership winner put forward his own suggestion, Farnworth’s uncle Brian Foley had sent a message from England asking if Renouf would assist his nephew as a mentor.

Renouf played for two seasons at the Wigan Warriors in 2000 and 2001 when Foley, a former recruiter and development coach, was at the club.

He has a long association with the 20-year-old Farnworth who has enjoyed a breakout year in the NRL in playing 15 games for Brisbane, while also signing a two-year extension and being selected in the England World Cup extended squad

"Brian brought Herbie out to Australia to play footy on a regular basis from when he was around 14 onwards and they both used to stay at my home," Renouf told NRL.com.

"Herbie is around the same age as my son Charlie so they got to know each other, and I was with Brian at Wigan, so we have that history.

"What I like about Herbie is that he is super-competitive and a great runner of the ball. He can play anywhere in the backline but I like him best in the centres. I believe I can help him with his centre play."

Steve Renouf representing Australia in 1992.
Steve Renouf representing Australia in 1992. ©NRL Photos

Renouf was an instinctive footballer but said there was a lot about centre play that could be learned.

"I like what Herbie is doing but in a game recently he went in a for a try and almost scored again in the corner and didn’t quite get it down," Renouf said.

"I thought at the time that I would have done that differently. There are subtleties in centre play and in actually scoring tries that you learn as you go."

Foley is right behind Renouf mentoring Farnworth and explained why it made perfect sense from his angle.

"Steve is a friend of mine and Herbie met Steve when he first came over to Australia and we all have a bond," Foley told NRL.com from England

"Me and Steve were together at Wigan and are good friends. We all know Steve was a great centre and I know he thinks a lot of Herbie, so it is a nice big circle.

"I actually helped Steve get qualified as a coach believe it or not when he was at Wigan so as the coaching mentor of the mentor, I’d like Steve to mentor Herbie."

Farnworth has played wing and centre and on both sides of the field in what has been a torrid year for the Broncos.

Foley said Farnworth’s best position may well be fullback but added playing a variety of  positions "might be the development phase he is going through to get there".

The Project Apollo restrictions mean face-to-face tuition is out of reach at the moment but Renouf said it could still be done "over the phone or remotely by Zoom" until biosecurity measures were eased.

Renouf also said a mentoring program at the Broncos should be extended.

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"At the start of the year the Old Boys officially asked the Broncos if a group of us could be assigned a player to mentor but nothing came of it at the time," Renouf said.

"The great thing about the Brisbane Broncos Old Boys is that we all want what is best for the club and assisting some of the players there now is a positive way we can make a contribution.

"Going forward, the Broncos will need all the help they can get so if the mentoring program can be put in place with other players it can only be a win-win.

"You have guys like Shane Webcke, Terry Matterson, Trevor Gillmeister and Gavin Allen still around up here … the list goes on. Imagine the wisdom they could impart to the young forwards. I am sure if they were asked they would only be too happy to do it in a controlled environment."