The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have secured the services of 20-year-old half Tom Dearden on a three-year deal beginning in the 2022 season.
A proud Mackay product, Dearden has appeared in 22 NRL games over the course of three seasons for the Brisbane Broncos.
Dearden 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.
“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.
“Tom is tenacious in the way he plays and he has all the traits we want in a long-term halfback.”
Cowboys Head Coach Todd Payten said the club was excited to bring Dearden home to North Queensland.
“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.”