News that Brisbane Broncos halfback Tom Dearden has accepted a deal to move to the North Queensland Cowboys in 2022 really showed that sometimes a club can learn a lesson or two.
It was just a few years ago that the North Queensland Cowboys lost a promising young player who was just starting his career at another club. Kalyn Ponga signed a sizeable deal with the Newcastle Knights after just a few first grade games. The Cowboys chose not to match the offer and let Ponga go. Big mistake…
The Brisbane Broncos should have learned the same lesson last year when Andrew Fifita was offered a big money deal by the Gold Coast Titans. As Fifita tears opposition teams apart the 2021 version of the Brisbane Broncos would love to be paying him $1 million to have him on their books. The odds of that decision turning our in their favour are as good as the odds you’ll find at casinos online!
Now the Broncos have let another promising young player leave. It makes you question what they think they will be rebuilding their club around if not for their most talented junior players.
The Wests Tigers ran into this issue a number of years ago. They had a handful of young players they had developed all off contract at the same time. How do you let a player like James Tedesco leave your club? How do you let any other club offer him enough money to consider leaving. If another club is offering him $1 million a season, match it. Heck, better it! Make him turn down more money to play elsewhere and roll the dice at a real money casino.
Losing a young star player can be devastating to a club. I think back to when Brad Fittler left the Penrith Panthers in the mid 1990’s during the Super League War. The loss of a once in a generation player like Fittler was a massive blow the club struggled to overcome for years. Meanwhile the team he joined, the Sydney Roosters, build their club around Fittler and enjoyed immense success, although they ironically lost to the Penrith Panthers in the 2003 NRL Grand Final (Of course I was going to bring that up!).
The Canterbury Bulldogs are another club who lost a young, talented player who they really should have held onto. Johnathan Thurston was a bench player but clearly a player of the future when he played in the 2004 NRL Grand Final for the club. He signed a sizeable deal to move to the North Queensland Cowboys, and the rest is history. Thurston would go on to be one of the best halfback of his era, guiding the Cowboys to two Grand Final appearances and winning one of them.
As the current Penrith Panthers club has shown us, and the Melbourne Storm have shown us since they entered the competition, holding on to the best young players you develop is vital in terms of aiming for long term success.
It is insane that some NRL clubs have taken so long to work this out. What exactly are the Brisbane Broncos planning on doing to rebuild their club? When is a young player good enough to hold onto? David Fifita, already an elite talent in the game, was considered expendable. Now a promising young halfback in Dearden is also expendable.
It makes neo sense at all and is a very bad sign for the Broncos long term future.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com