Revealed: NRL Immortal’s bid to poach Broncos whiz
Tom Dearden's manager has revealed how the Brisbane young gun rejected poaching bids from the Titans and NRL Immortal Andrew Johns in his mission to be the Broncos' best halfback since Allan Langer.
Former Tweed Heads whizkid Dearden will return to Gold Coast soil for Saturday night's derby at Cbus Super Stadium - two years after he was at the centre of a tug-of-war between the Broncos and Titans for his signature.
There was also a third heavy-hitting suitor, with NRL premiers the Roosters so keen to sign Dearden for the 2019 season that billionaire chairman Nick Politis called on halfback legend 'Joey' Johns to help deliver the teenager to Bondi.
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At the time, Johns was a halves consultant to the two-time champions and he spruiked the Roosters' vision to Dearden's parents in the lead-up to the halfback's debut for the Queensland under-18s side.
A student of Palm Beach Currumbin High, Dearden had links to the Gold Coast region, but Brisbane trumped the Titans and Roosters after then Broncos coach Wayne Bennett convinced the playmaker to remain at Red Hill.
Dearden is rated Queensland's young playmaking equivalent of Penrith maestro Nathan Cleary and his agent revealed how the Broncos No.7 slipped the Titans net in the lead-up to the M1 derby on Saturday night.
"When the Titans and Roosters came after Tom, Wayne Bennett was a massive factor in keeping Tommy at the Broncos," his manager Sam Ayoub said.
"I remember the Titans tried to move heaven-and-earth to get Tom.
"He was on a basic Broncos scholarship (in 2018) and the Titans' recruitment people saw Tom playing in the local area for Tweed and wanted to sign him.
"In one game for Tweed, they scored 70 points and Tom scored five tries and had six try assists, everyone in the Gold Coast region knew he was something special.
"He attracted interest from the Roosters as well. It was around the time of the Queensland under-18s game and we set up a meeting with Tom's parents and the Roosters and they sent Andrew Johns along to talk to them.
"Unfortunately, the Titans were struggling at the time and they weren't the club they are today. It was a few months before Mal Meninga came on board (as Gold Coast culture boss) and Justin Holbrook hadn't been signed as Titans coach.
"But Tom is a loyal kid and he really looked up to Wayne Bennett. His parents were inspired by what Wayne told them and he has a knack of being influential in keeping players at a club, so it was a coup for the Broncos."
Dearden will wage an intriguing battle with late-blooming Titans halfback Jamal Fogarty as the Broncos look to avoid a 15th loss from 16 games.
By rights, Dearden could easily be wearing Titans colours, but Gold Coast coach Holbrook is comfortable with his own playmaking stocks.
"Dearden is a great young half who's had some wraps on him for a couple of years," Holbrook said.
"He's starting to find his feet at first grade level. He is such a handful as a runner.
"I don't think we can do anything about the past,
"We've got plenty of good halves and a great young half in Tanah Boyd who I've got a massive wrap on, but he can't force his way in at the moment.
"Tanah is as good as any of the young halves in the game. I'm okay with who we've got."
Originally published as Revealed: NRL Immortal's bid to poach Broncos whiz