The phone call from Cam Munster that helped ignite Queensland Maroons debutant who suffered 14 losses in a row to begin his NRL career
- North Queensland Cowboys young gun Tom Dearden made his Origin debut
- He was one of the best players on the field after a huge rise in the NRL in 2022
- The young Cowboy replaced Melbourne Storm champion Cameron Munster
- Now, he has revealed the chat with Munster that helped lift him on the big stage
It was only last year that 21-year-old Tom Dearden was on the scrap heap at the Brisbane Broncos and riding a 14-game losing streak across two NRL clubs.
So when Billy Slater knocked on his door last week to tell the Mackay product that he was going to make his State of Origin debut for Queensland, it capped a meteoric rise for the young halfback once dubbed ‘the next Alfie Langer’.
Dearden has been a key cog in the second-placed North Queensland Cowboys revival this season but has been given tonight off from the clash against the Sharks to heal from his winning Origin debut – and consequent celebrations.
Dearden hoists up the State of Origin Shield after Wednesday night’s win over the Blues
Now he has revealed that injured Melbourne Storm and Maroons star Cam Munster gave him a call ahead of the Origin decider on Wednesday to help prepare himself for the biggest arena in rugby league.
‘I think it just shows – I know how disappointed he would have been not being able to run out and play in the decider – but it just shows the credit of the bloke to be able to give me a call and congratulate me, tell me that the boys have got my back and that they’re excited to watch me play,’ Dearden told 4BC’s Wide World of Sports.
‘I think hearing those words from a player like Cam Munster, who’s probably the best player in the game at the moment, it definitely made me feel very confident.’
Kurt Capewell, Kalyn Ponga and Dearden of the Queensland Maroons celebrate victory
The advice from Munster, Slater and his Origin teammates helped Dearden shed any nerves as he walked out onto the cauldron of Suncorp Stadium.
‘It’s something that you dream of as a kid and to be able to get a debut at Suncorp Stadium in a decider, and for Queensland to be to put on a performance like that, it’s a pretty special moment,’ he said.
‘I had those natural nerves just because of the occasion, but I had a very clear message on what my job was and what I had to do when I got out there.’
It was an obvious high after a young career punctuated by low points and Dearden said he is happy to ride the wave as long as it lasts.
‘I’m still only in the first few years [of my career] and I’m just really loving my footy at the moment,’ he said.
‘I started my career with a few tough times and I think that’s what footy is, it’s plenty of ups and plenty of downs so you’ve got to soak up these high moments and enjoy them.’
Dearden has attracted plenty of praise for his debut performance that included 17 runs for 103 metres, a line break, a line break assist, a try assist, 4 tackle breaks and 29 tackles.
‘He is only five foot but he walked out onto Suncorp looking like he was seven foot tall and bulletproof,’ Cronk said on Fox Sports.
‘One of his first touches nearly set up a try for Josh Papalii. Then sets up a try for Holmes. That was 101 ball playing on the biggest stage.
Dearden has been realising his potential for the North Queensland Cowboys this season
‘Quick footwork. Four on four. Beats the defender and just throws a peach of a pass to Holmes, which was the first try.
‘But I also like his temperament. In the first half he passed, passed, passed. But in the second half he ran, ran, ran.
‘He tackled everything that came near him. He turned up on these plays.
‘Sometimes players like Tom Dearden are not meant to do things on a football field, but with the game on the line you just do it because you have to.
‘He was great. One of the better Origin debuts we have seen.’
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