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: Andrew Farrar - Wigan

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The Independent Online
THE RECENT history of Wigan has been one of replacing the irreplaceable, but few players have had a harder act to follow than Andrew Farrar.

There was as much wailing and rending of garments in the town this summer over the failure of Gene Miles to return for a second season as there was for the departures of players who were at Central Park for much longer; players like Ellery Hanley, Kevin Iro and Andy Gregory. It was a measure of the impact Miles had made in a few months as a Wigan player.

Farrar might have taken over his shirt, his place on the overseas quota and even his house, but he would not claim to be a figure of similar stature in the Australian game. When Miles was a fixture in Australian sides for years, Farrar wore the green and gold just once, albeit in the 1988 World Cup final against New Zealand. Where Miles was forever catching the eye with a storming run or an unlikely and devastating one-handed pass out of the tackle, Farrar tended to do his work less obtrusively. He was a good pro, a players' player, for the highly successful Canterbury side and then for Western Suburbs.

In his first few games for Wigan, the 30-year-old Farrar was disappointingly anonymous, especially to fans who had conveniently forgotten the slow start that Miles had made a year before.

'It takes a while to settle into a new club,' Farrar said, 'although playing alongside Dean Bell in the centres has been a great help.'

Bell and Farrar now form as convincing a defensive centre pairing as you could wish to see, and that will be vitally important tonight against a team which throws the ball around like the Broncos.

'It's the only way they know how to play it,' Farrar said. 'You have to watch them all the time.'

Farrar has watched them throughout their rise to power and believes there is one aspect of their play that presents a particular danger.

'Players like Glenn Lazarus and Trevor Gillmeister get them moving forward,' he said, 'and then they play the ball very quickly.

'That allows the Ipswich (a town near Brisbane) connection of Allan Langer and the Walters' brothers to put a move on before the defence is ready for them.' Farrar and Bell will be awake to that one, but their role as attacking providers will be just as crucial.

On Saturday, Great Britain were heavily criticised for failing to get the ball out to Martin Offiah. It is typical of Farrar as a dedicated team player that success for him tonight will be providing a service to his wing that will make up for that barren afternoon. 'I think Martin would like to see a bit more ball,' he said. 'And I'd like to think we could give it to him.'