NRL player Tom Dearden, a halfback once anointed as the future of the Brisbane Broncos, has announced his departure from the club, instead signing with the North Queensland Cowboys from next season.
- Tom Dearden has signed a three-year deal with the North Queensland Cowboys from next season
- Broncos coach Kevin Walters says the club has plans to target experienced playmakers
- Dearden has appeared in 22 NRL games over three seasons for the Broncos
Dearden was being touted as the Broncos’ long-term halfback, but his departure has meant Brisbane will once again go back to the drawing board in a bid to unearth a genuine world class playmaker.
Dearden’s exit comes off the back of the departure of promising fullback Reece Walsh, who joined the New Zealand Warriors earlier this year.
The club also parted ways with the freakishly talented backrower David Fifita, who has gone on to star for the Gold Coast Titans.
“Obviously we are disappointed,” Kevin Walters via a club statement.
“We will continue to work through that process in the weeks and months ahead.”
There have been whispers the club is targeting an experienced playmaker.
South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds and Eels playmaker Mitchell Moses have been mentioned.
The Cowboys have signed Dearden to a three-year deal that is due to begin next season.
A Mackay product, Dearden has appeared in 22 NRL games over three seasons for the Brisbane Broncos.
The 20-year-old was a member of the Cowboys’ Mackay Academy as a teenager and starred for the Cutters’ under 16s side in 2016 before relocating to the Gold Coast to attend Palm Beach Currumbin the following year.
In 2018, Dearden was an integral member of Palm Beach’s ARL Schoolboy Cup winning side and received the Peter Sterling Medal for Player of the Tournament.
He was also selected in the Australian Schoolboys side to tour England at the end of the season.
‘A standout with an abundance of ability’
“This is an exciting signature for our club because it gives us another genuine organising halfback,” Cowboys Head of Football Micheal Luck said.
“Tom is young, he’s come through first class systems at the Broncos and Palm Beach Currumbin and he now gets the opportunity to learn off an experienced premiership-winning halfback in Chad Townsend.
“An extra attraction for us, apart from his on-field talent, was the fact he is a Mackay junior and he came through our academy system as a teenager.
Cowboys Head Coach Todd Payten said the club was excited to bring Dearden to the club.
“Tom organises his team with great maturity for a 20-year-old, he’s a strong runner, he kicks well and he gets his body in front as a defender,” he said.
“He played first grade at 18, so it’s clear he has an abundance of ability and he’s been the standout half in his age group coming through the grades.
“On top of that, he is a North Queensland kid, who is a really good person that is going to add significant value to our roster.”