Last year, 18-year-old Tom Dearden was chased by six different clubs before ending up at the Broncos, and is set to make his debut during their Round 8 blockbuster with South Sydney.
The Mackay junior is set to become the Broncos’ youngest starting halfback at 18 years and 50 days old as they search for their first win on the road.
A talented junior, Dearden was born in Toowoomba before he began carving out his career in the under-6’s through to the under-15’s for the Brothers Bulldogs in Mackay.
His life soon consisted of nothing but learning and loving the game, he idolised league legend Johnathan Thurston, and as a junior, he even trialled headgear that was given to him by the Cowboys’ icon.
Tom’s father Steve told The Courier-Mail about the times his son would spend in front of the television screen observing the game itself.
“He used to watch Friday Night Football when he was about five or six,” Steve Dearden said.
“We’d all go to bed and he’d stay up and watch the game.
“He’s always been into footy. Ever since he was a young fella, he’s always worn that No.7.
“He’s been a JT (Thurston) fan for most of his life.”
Broncos fought off rival clubs to lock in the youngster’s signature, with player-manager Sam Ayoub revealed to The Courier-Mail the extent of bidding war surrounding the blonde-haired halfback.
“Last year, he had half a dozen clubs keen to secure him,” Ayoub said.
“Quite a few flew his parents to meet with them and they visited about four or five of the clubs.
“The Titans were definitely keen because he was living on the Gold Coast and there was a lot of merit in considering them because he was living locally.
“The Rooster and Bulldogs were exceptionally keen too.”
In the end, the Broncos managed to lock Dearden away on a three-year deal ending in 2021, and will now run out wearing the No.7 jersey on Thursday Night.