Most 18-year-olds would be nearing the end of the first semester of University or undergoing their first few years as an apprentice but this isn’t the case for Tom Dearden.
The rookie who grew up in Mackay is set to make his NRL debut at halfback this week against the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Dearden joins fellow teenagers David Fifita (19) and Tom Flegler (19) as the Broncos are set to take on former coach Wayne Bennett for the first time since he left the club.
Rumours surrounding the departure of current halfback Kodi Nikorima to the Warriors and a lacklustre start to the season has left this spot open for Dearden and he will be given an opportunity to make the number 7 his. Support and praise has been coming from Broncos legends such as Wally Lewis, Darren Lockyer and current fullback Darius Boyd as well as Dearden’s current coach Anthony Seibold who said, ‘’It’s a great occasion for him to make his debut as an 18-year-old kid, it is a big challenge against a really quality side, but we think he is up to it.’’
The halfback made his Intrust Super Cup debut for the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls earlier this season and was awarded man of the match for efforts in a 16-8 win against the Mackay Cutters. Dearden has played four matches this season for the Seagulls, impressing in each game. In these four matches, Dearden has 2 Try assists, 3 Forced drop outs, 254 run metres and 417 kick metres which is quite handy for an 18-year-old kid. The baby bronco has also averages 30 touches of the football per game for Wynnum which suggest that he will play a supporting role to his halves partner Anthony Milford who averages 46 touches per game.
It’ll be a tough debut for Dearden as they come against a premiership contending side Rabbitohs team who will be vying for the seventh win of the season and will definitely be targeting the halfback when they have the ball. It seems fitting for the baby Broncos that a rookie halfback will come into the side and try and guide them through the rest of the season.