Rugby League / World Club Challenge: Renouf and Farrar are centres of attention: Dave Hadfield reports on the contrasting styles of two great rugby league talents: Steve Renouf - Brisbane Broncos

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THE comparison that occurs to John Monie, the Wigan coach, when he sees Steve Renouf play will send a tingle of anticipation and apprehension through Wigan supporters.

'He looks to me like a young John Ferguson,' Monie said. 'He has that same quality of making you think that you've got him, and then, suddenly, he's gone.'

Ferguson was the Aboriginal winger whose feats during the 1984-85 season are part of Wigan folklore. A near-30,000 crowd for the World Club Challenge against the Brisbane Broncos tonight will be able to see first-hand whether the new model measures up to the original.

Whereas the apparently ageless Ferguson had already seen an indeterminate number of Australian summers when he came to Wigan, however, Renouf is only 22. 'People forget how young he is,' John Ribot, his boss at the Broncos, said. 'His discipline and consistency have improved enormously over the last two years, but there's a lot of improvement in him yet. He could go on to be anything.'

Renouf comes from a family of 10 children in Murgon, a hundred miles north of Brisbane. His great regret is that his father and keenest fan, Charlie, was not at Wembley and will not be at Central Park tonight; he died of a heart attack earlier this year.

He had already seen his son make startling progress. Spotted by the Broncos' excellent state- wide scouting organisation at 17, Renouf steadily established himself in the first grade side and made a brief debut as a substitute for Queensland this year.

It was his form in the play-off series in Sydney, however, that won him his place in Australia's World Cup squad, in particular a stunning 75-yard try in the Grand Final victory over St George. It emphasised Renouf's acceleration and ability to sustain his pace over a long break for the line.

His try that won the World Cup at Wembley last Saturday was almost routine by comparison, but it showed the timing of his run on to a pass and the deceptive strength that enables him to shrug off anything less than an equally well- timed tackle.

'It was the sort of pass you couldn't fail to score from,' was his modest way of describing it. Significantly, he will be on the end of passes from the same player, Kevin Walters, tonight.

Monie has had Renouf's name in his notebook for some time, having spent part of the last two summers studying the Broncos' methods. And Renouf has a remarkable record under Monie's knowing eye: 'Every time I've seen him, he's scored a try.'

Given the way the Broncos play and the way he can seize the chances they produce, it would be a rash man who would bet heavily on Steve Renouf coming away empty-handed tonight.