Tom Dearden’s long-term extension with the Cowboys has given the club a major boost, and the sky appears to be the limit for the talented playmaker according to a former State of Origin and Australian star.
After receiving interest from a number of rival NRL clubs, the 22-year-old put pen to paper on a five-year deal with North Queensland on Tuesday, knocking back the likes of St George Illawarra
Dearden has already made one appearance in the representative arena, shining in his debut for the Maroons in the State of Origin decider in 2022 and helping the side to a surprise victory over NSW.
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The five-eighth was also a shining light in the Cowboys’ disappointing 2023 campaign, scoring seven tries and registering 10 try assists for the club as they missed out on a top-eight berth.
Despite playing the majority of his first grade career in the No.6 jumper, Dearden has been tipped to move into the halfback spot in the coming years in Townsville and according to former Cowboys centre Brent Tate, that might not be the only responsibility in his foreseeable future.
“He’s got leadership capabilities written all over him … I definitely think he is [a future captain],” Tate said on SEN Radio.
“He is a player the club will want to build around because he’s got a fantastic attitude and he’s a great competitor.
“He has also got a lot of progression to go as a footballer as I see him moving into the No.7 and becoming a controlling halfback.
“That move is imminent and I certainly think he can be the controlling half and that running threat. It’s very exciting for Tommy.”
With just 80 matches in the top grade to his name since debuting for the Broncos as a teenager, the prediction from Tate could be described as somewhat premature, but it’s obvious the Cowboys are hopeful of cementing Dearden as a vital part of their plans.
Dearden’s extension sees him join fellow spine members Reece Robson and Scott Drinkwater in securing their long-term futures with North Queensland.