The Rugby League World Cup has seen England coast through to the semi-finals with some exceptional performances.
Though everyone has played their part, head coach Shaun Wane has had the luxury of some super NRL talent within the squad.
While the more established players like Tom Burgess, Elliott Whitehead and Luke Thompson, who all currently ply their trade down under, have excelled in the forwards, it has been the emergence of the backs that has caught the eye of many.
Super League stars Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins and Tommy Makinson have definitely played their part, but Newcastle Knights winger Dom Young and Brisbane Broncos centre Herbie Farnworth have arguably been the standouts.
Both Young and Farnworth are off-contract at the end of 2023 and are currently on the NRL’s open market, allowing rival clubs in Australia to lure them away from their current teams with big offer for 2024 and beyond.
Former Huddersfield man Young has reportedly attracted the interest of five other clubs down under already, but for Farnworth it’s unknown whether his long-term future remains at the Broncos.
Farnworth decided to sign only a one-year deal at Suncorp Stadium recently with the 22-year-old eager switch position from centre to fullback, a move that would allow him to showcase his ability more on the pitch and earn more money off it.
The Burnley-born former Manchester United academy player faces tough competition for that number one role though from the likes of Tesi Niu, Selwyn Cobbo and Reece Walsh, with the latter arriving recently from the New Zealand Warriors.
Walsh, according to Kevin Walters, is a ‘specialist fullback’, with Brisbane’s head coach casting doubts over Farnworth’s future at the club in the summer by suggesting they ‘won’t have time’ to develop him as a fullback in the current off-season ‘because of limited time due to the World Cup’.
How long Farnworth is willing to wait remains to be seen, with Brisbane’s academy chief Simon Scanlan confirming to News Corp that the England international is eager for the number one role.
Scanlan has somewhat contradicted the comments from coach Walters though, by suggesting that there will be a shootout for the fullback position during pre-season with no assurances given to new signing Walsh about his position.
Scanlan said: “The thing we’ve made clear is Reece (Walsh) isn’t guaranteed anything. We have Tesi Niu and Herbie Farnworth wanting to play fullback as well so it will be a shootout for that No.1 jumper in the pre-season.
“Reece has to come in and fight for the jumper. No-one at the club has been told they are locked in as the No.1 fullback. Reece is one of the guys in the mix.”
Farnworth has played the entire World Cup at centre, but with Sam Tomkins likely playing in his last major tournament for England, Farnworth will likely be eyeing up the long-term fullback role with his country too.
To do this though he will likely have to be playing that role for his club side, and should he not land that position with the Broncos, Farnworth’s undoubted talent will be used at number one by a rival team, with his availability already putting him on the radar of other clubs in Australia.
At 22, Farnworth has a long career in front of him, with his pre-season at Brisbane following the World Cup a potentially deciding factor in where he will play from 2024 onwards, both positionally and environmentally.