Farnworth boost for Dolphins as ‘Hammer’ nears return

Joel Gould and Scott Bailey |

Herbie Farnworth (C) returns for the Dolphins against Manly with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (L) a week away
Herbie Farnworth (C) returns for the Dolphins against Manly with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (L) a week away

The cavalry is returning for the Dolphins with strike centre Herbie Farnworth breezing through captain’s run on Wednesday and star fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow set to return next week.

England international Farnworth returns against Manly at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night from a month on the sidelines with an AC joint strain.

Tabuai-Fidow, known as ‘Hammer’, could have played against the Sea Eagles if it was a Saturday or Sunday game, but is on track to line up in Magic Round against the Wests Tigers the following week.

“Herbie is fit to play and that is the main thing,” Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett said.

“It is always good to have your top players back. He is a month behind everybody else but he will catch up pretty quick. 

“The Hammer could be back next week. He was pretty close this week.”

Bennett said “nobody knows” how long it would take for the nerve damage to heal in the shoulder of Queensland forward Thomas Flegler, who remains unavailable.

The Dolphins have a strong bench with veteran Kenny Bromwich returning from a week out with concussion. As a result the squad has a plethora of back-rowers in the 17.

Bennett said he expected Felise Kaufusi, named in the second-row, to spend time at prop as he did last week.

“Felise can play on the edge and in the middle. We will see how it goes,” Bennett said.

“We need bigger bodies at the moment in the middle with Tom Flegler not being available for selection. Max Plath and Ray Stone do a great job for us but we don’t want our middles to be filled up with small people.”

The Dolphins are in fourth position on the ladder and are receiving huge performances from their forwards.

Prop Mark Nicholls, 34, had a stunning match in the 28-26 win over North Queensland last week. His barnstorming line break after halftime set the tone for the side’ s comeback win.

“I have coached ‘The Goat’ in 150 games and it was the first line break I’ve seen him make. I was so excited for him,” Bennett grinned.

“I’ve been replaying it all week. He even looked like he knew what he was doing. That is what surprised me.”

The Dolphins have only played the fifth-placed Sea Eagles once in their short history, a heavy 58-18 loss away last year.

“It wasn’t our best night. It was a bad night,” Bennett said.

“They have some wonderful players who will always be a threat.”

Manly have put an emphasis on better controlling momentum after giving up leads of 14-0, 16-0 and 20-0 this year.

“I feel really positive about our start to the year. Our best football has competed with the best teams in the competition,” coach Anthony Seibold said.

“But we need to do it for longer periods. If we are on top in a game, how can we be a little more hard edged?

“It’s almost like a cricketer trying to hit a six off every ball, we’re trying to score off every set at times because we have some weapons.

“We need to manage games a little better.”