Dearden long term halfback option: Lockyer
Speculation about Brisbane signing out of favour Melbourne playmaker Brodie Croft doesn't concern young Broncos halfback Tom Dearden.
But it seems it should after Brisbane director Darren Lockyer said he saw Dearden as a long term No.7 option and did not rule out recruiting Croft or Gold Coast's Ash Taylor for the 2020 NRL season.
Dearden - just 18 - was adamant he could reclaim the Broncos No.7 jersey next year if he had an impressive pre-season after his five game debut year was cut short by an ankle injury.
"It was frustrating because I got to play a handful of games and thought I was really starting to build toward something," Dearden told AAP.
"But it only make me hungrier for next season.
"They make decisions from how you train. Whether I start next year, that's all based on the pre-season so I am obviously looking for a big one."
While Lockyer rated Dearden highly, he hinted that the teenager would be given a couple of seasons' experience before being asked to start at halfback.
"I made my debut at 18 but I didn't really cement a first grade spot in the starting team until I was 20," former Broncos premiership winning skipper Lockyer said.
"It's a bit optimistic to expect an 18-year-old kid to come in and be the general for a first grade team.
"We have belief in Tom's ability and he is a great kid. Long term he is going to be a great asset for the club."
It seems in the meantime Brisbane will look to either Croft or former Broncos No.7 Taylor to fill the halfback void at Red Hill.
Brisbane have been on the hunt for a playmaker after finishing the 2019 season with former fullback Darius Boyd at five-eighth and regular hooker Jake Turpin at No.7.
Croft has been linked to Brisbane since falling down the pecking order with Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
"That is evolving. Brodie is not getting a lot of time at the Storm at the moment," Lockyer said of Croft talks.
"He is on our radar. That is something that is a work in progress."
Taylor is another possibility after Gold Coast Titans head of performance and culture Mal Meninga conceded he was open to a swap deal for the battling half.
Taylor was limited to just 10 NRL games this year after requesting personal leave to deal with the pressures of being the Titans' highly paid marquee man.
Asked about Taylor's return to Red Hill, a coy Lockyer said: "Ash has been discussed but it is one of those things - you will have to wait and see".
© AAP 2019