North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage and Fan Day In Ayr
AYR, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 13: Cowboys coach Todd Payten looks on during a North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage game against the Townsville Blackhawks at Rugby Park on February 13, 2021 in Ayr, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The North Queensland Cowboys have identified off-contract Broncos duo Tom Dearden and Anthony Milford as playmaker targets for 2022.

it comes amid Jake Clifford’s impending move to the Newcastle Knights from next season on a two-year deal, leaving a void in the No. 7 jumper.

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Cowboys coach Todd Payten confirmed to 7News Brisbane that the Broncos pair were in the club’s sights.

“We have to look out for players to fill that spot next year. Tom Dearden’s available, (Anthony) Milford’s available so we’ll get onto that in the next few weeks,” Payten said.

Dearden, 19, has played 17 NRL games all for Brisbane since making his first-grade debut in 2019.

The Mackay junior is one of the league’s brightest young playmakers and considered a future star of the game.

7 News’ Chris Garry reported last month that the Cowboys were set make a ‘competitive’ offer for Dearden and were keen to make him their long-term No. 7.

Milford has made 180 NRL appearances since his debut in 2013, including a previous stint at the Canberra Raiders.

The 26-year old had struggled to live up to his $1 million contract, with the Broncos at the end last year reportedly allowing him to speak to rival clubs.