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Tom Dearden knows he has a big job to do for Queensland in replacing Cameron Munster at five-eighth but has pledged to stamp his authority rather than fill the injured star’s shoes.  

Making his debut for Queensland at five-eighth in Game Three of the 2022 series, where he guided the Maroons to a 22-12 win, the 23-year-old has found himself there again after Munster was ruled out with a groin injury.

But arriving in camp this year as an NRL co-captain and one of the competition's greatest attacking weapons, the North Queensland skipper said his focus remains on playing his own game next Wednesday.   

“I don't have to be Cameron Munster or anyone else, I’ve just go to go out there, get my job done and play to my strengths,” Dearden told media on Monday.

"They’re definitely big shoes to fill, we know how important he’s been for Queensland but I think the most important thing for me and preparing for this week is to make sure I stick to playing my strengths.

A dazzling Dearden display

“When I go out on to the footy field I know exactly what my job is and where my strengths are and what I need to do to have a good game.

“It’s sad to not see him (Munster) here, I know how instrumental he is for Queensland but now that I get my opportunity, I’m really looking forward to it.

“I feel like I’ve developed my game really well and I’m really comfortable with the way that I’m playing.”

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Likely to form an edge with Cowboys teammates Valentine Holmes and Murray Taulagi, Dearden should feel right at home alongside Daly Cherry-Evans at Accor Stadium next Wednesday.

The Mackay junior has even played alongside recalled backrower Jadyn Su’a at his former club the Broncos, who is also set to line up on the left edge.

“I’ve played lots of games with those boys and we’ve got a good combination back at clubland so hopefully we can bring that combination to Queensland,” Dearden said.

“I have played with Su’a, I was at the Broncos when I was younger and he was there as a backrower so we’ve trained there and played together.

“And Daly is such a great leader and done a great job for Queensland over the last few years.

"The way he can stay composed and direct a team around the park, it definitely makes the job of playing in the halves alongside him so much easier, when he can get the side around the park and I can just focus on taking my opportunities and picking my moments.

“And already having that experience it definitely does make me feel a lot more confident and comfortable coming into camp here.”

Tom Dearden's try saver in all its glory

Dearden will also be joined in camp by his club co-captain Rueben Cotter, who returns at prop for Game One, with the pair named among six NRL captains chosen in the Maroons team.

The star five-eighth said he also hopes to bring some of his leadership qualities to camp in preparation for Game One.

“The captaincy has definitely helped me find more of a voice and be more confident with saying my opinion,” he said.

“I think the greatest thing about being captain alongside Reubs is that we both lead with our actions.

“That’s what we said we wanted to bring as leaders at the Cowboys and I know we can bring those same actions and habits into Queensland as well.”

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.