The NRL has dished out heavy sanctions to Ricky Stuart for his infamous "weak-gutted dog" rant.
England coach Shaun Wane has backed Herbie Farnworth to star at the Rugby League World Cup after running the rule over the Brisbane Broncos star while in Australia for Magic Round.
Farnworth’s career trajectory has taken place almost entirely after the pandemic: the centre made his debut just months before for the 2019 Great Britain tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea and has been unable to travel to England for matches since.
Despite regular contact over Zoom, last weekend was the first time that Wane has been able to meet his prospective starting centre and watch him perform in person.
“He’s an athlete,” said Wane. He’s big, 102kg, and I like how he plays. I watch all his games – I watch every NRL game. I’m a fanatic rugby league fan and he’s impressed me.”
“The way that Brisbane played at the weekend was very impressive and I thought Herbie was one of the standouts.”
“We play Samoa first, we’re going to play Tonga and Australia and New Zealand and having someone with Herbie’s experience is going to be vital, as well as the other NRL players we have like Luke Thompson, Ryan Sutton and Elliott Whitehead.
“Having them in the squad and in the team is going to be really important.”
Farnworth and Dom Young – born in England but expected to play for Jamaica at the World Cup – have spoken to The Roar this year about the differing expectations of the two competitions, particularly for outside backs.
“How they get out of yardage here is key,” said Wane. “It’s an attritional game over here and that’s something that we need to get better at.
“If we’re going to progress in the World Cup, we’re going to come up against players who play in the NRL and it’s a tough competition. The manner in which we get out of yardage is going to be so important.
“We need to play in a manner that suits our athletes, because we don’t have huge athletes. We have smaller players but they’re very skillful, and that’s what we need to use.”
Wane and his backroom staff were on hand to watch all eight games at Suncorp Stadium and assess the likely standard of opposition that they will face on home soil, starting with Samoa at what should be a packed St James’ Park in Newcastle on the opening day.
“The standard here is very good and the England players are going great. I think the standard in Super League is good too,” said Wane.
“You’ve got a lot of athletes to choose from over here and it’s a far more popular game. I’ve loved this weekend and the hospitality that the Australians have shown me.
“I think our England-qualifed players have done really well. I go home in a few weeks and I’ll be very happy that we’re prepared for the World Cup.”