HERBIE Farnworth might not be ready to fill the boots of superstar Sam Tomkins just yet but he is wearing the ones given to him by one of Rugby League modern day greats.
The 14-year-old is regarding as one of the brightest young talents in the game and is already attracting interest from a number of top teams – Wigan Warriors have already invited him to attend their taster days as one of the top performers in his age group.
But for the moment, the former Blacko Primary School pupil is enjoying playing, picking up the plaudits and pulling on his boots.
Herbie is working under the wing of Brian Foley who oversaw the development of players at Wigan Warriors who went on to become top internationals – including Tomkins Foley rates him as one of the best he has worked with, praise indeed as he has helped nurture some of the finest talents the country has seen at Wigan’s pioneering youth set-up which he developed and was adopted by clubs throughout the country.
But Foley knows the importance of not rushing Herbie who is currently playing for Wigan St Patricks.
“Herbie has plenty of time,” he said. “He is young, enjoying and applying his skills in a challenging way. The level at which he is playing is certainly assisting Herbie’s development and he has great potential.
“He has a tough competitive mental attitude he displays tremendous potential.”
That potential has also being recognised by Tomkins who now plays for New Zealand Warriors.
“Sam has donated his playing boots to Herbie so he has two pairs of boots, one for hard and one for soft weather play,” added Foley.
“Sam is one of the modern greats of the game who I have had to honour of developing.”
The Pendle teenager has already hit the ground running for the season ahead, scoring an incredible six tries in a warm-up victory over big rivals Wigan Ince Rose Bridge – two of which were spectacular length of the field efforts.
His skills have also been acknowledged by members of the Rugby Football League coach education staff who videoed him in action which will be used by coaches throughout the world to help develop young players.
And he is hoping to further his Rugby League education this summer at a top Australian Rugby League nursery club in Queensland.
“The Australian authorities are working on a clearance for Herbie to play out there,” added Foley. “It will be a tough but exciting journey and he is expected to play three of four games out there.”
Herbie had an incredible debut season at Wigan St Patricks in the North West Counties League, finishing the campaign as leading try sorer amazing 38 tries.
He was also voted player of the season by his peers, an honour indeed as Herbie is the only player outside of the Wigan area at the club.
Herbie, who now studies at Ermysteads Grammar school in Skipton, is no stranger to success despite his young age.
While at Blacko, Herbie and his friend Alex were the stand-out players who led their school team to an incredible Lancashire tag Rugby triumph.
The following year he was the outstanding player throughout the Yorkshire cup tournament when he almost single handed led his school team to their first ever Yorkshire cup win.
Herbie travels hundreds of miles each week to train and play and, against home-grown talent which is very much part of their pedigree and culture, is triumphing against all the odds.