It’s time the Brisbane Broncos backed prized talent Tom Dearden and hand the playmaking reins over to the 19-year-old after a sixth consecutive loss consigned the club to an eight-year low, says rugby league great Peter Sterling.
The situation in Brisbane has reached crisis point after they coughed up a 10-point lead at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday to fall to NRL strugglers, the New Zealand Warriors, in a 26-16 capitulation.
Underpinning the loss were the usual hallmarks of Brisbane’s recent defeats – a lack of leadership on the park, and as Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns described, “no science” to the way they play.
With the cross-hairs firmly focused on club stalwarts Anthony Milford, Darius Boyd and winger Corey Oates, star Melbourne import Brodie Croft could now also find himself nearing the chopping block, Sterling said.
From six appearances since the COVID-19 break, Croft has struggled to make his mark on Brisbane’s attack despite finding the try-line for a single four-pointer.
Sterling has been left baffled by the club’s treatment of Dearden who has featured largely off the bench, and out of position, particularly given his career started so promisingly last year.
He said there was no better time for coach Anthony Seibold and Broncos management to put their money where their mouth is and get behind the teenage halves prospect that they clearly rate.
“Dearden is the strange situation in all of this,” Sterling said in Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.
“Last year, he was brought in and put into first grade, and basically was told that, ‘He’s our future’.
‘Shambles’: Joey dissects Broncos’ woes
“Now there’s been an opportunity for him to come back after injury, but he’s being used off the bench. He’s being used sparingly.
“If he’s their future – and I know that they imported Brodie Croft up there – but if Dearden is so highly regarded, now is probably the time to put him up there and say, ‘Okay, the job is yours, let’s see what we can put around you and let’s see if we can get some confidence going. You are our man, as you previously were before you were injured’.
“No [it doesn’t bode well for Croft]. He’s a playmaker and they’ve lost six in a row. So, his spot is going to come under pressure as they all do.
“Possibly a change needs to be made. I’m thinking Dearden needs to be given a run now, to back up the thought process of putting him up there in the first place last season.”
Club great and board member Darren Lockyer admitted that the whole of Brisbane was hurting due to the Broncos’ lack of success, revealing criticism from ex-players wasn’t helping the current playing group.
“Everyone’s hurting. It’s disappointing, it’s sad, it’s frustrating – it’s a lot of emotions,” Lockyer said on Nine’s The Sunday Footy Show.
“I know that the guys are doing all they can to turn things around but it’s just a bit sad when the effort doesn’t get the rewards.
“I think it becomes a distraction (ex-players’ criticism). It just comes with the Broncos being a big team in a big town, and a lot of expectation comes with that.
Lockyer weighs in on Broncos woes
“Particularly for the younger ones, it’s probably a big distraction, but the only way to sort of silence people is to play well and win.
“It’s just a difficult time for them right now, of their development. They’re learning. Distractions don’t help, but it’s no reason not to play well.
“[Seibold] is like the players. He’s put a lot of hard work and effort into getting them ready for the game and when they don’t get the result, it’s disappointing and it hurts and it makes for another tough week at the Broncos, because they just want to focus on their job and do their thing, but there’s going to be a lot spoken about the club again this week.”