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Forget Bennett v Seibold, this is all about an 18-year-old halfback

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01.05.2019

All the talk this week has been about the battle of the coaches, Souths’ Wayne Bennett and Brisbane’s Anthony Seibold.

Let me tell you, the players couldn’t care less; they won’t be thinking about that when they run onto ANZ Stadium.

No, this match is about 18-year-old halfback Tom Dearden, who is making his debut with Kodi Nikorima sidelined. He’s going from a maiden at Cessnock to running in The Everest up against Redzel.

Huge step up: Brisbane's Tom Dearden trains with the Broncos this week.Credit:AAP

By all accounts, he’s a really confident young bloke. Ticks all the boxes at training. Loves the game. He’s only slight, but I understand he’s put on five kilos in the off-season and now weighs about 85 kilograms.

But this is a huge ask.

He can expect Sam Burgess to run at him all night. He can expect the Burgess twins, George and Tom, running at him all night. It doesn’t matter how much the Broncos players try to protect him, eventually Souths will get one on one with him, which will be a big test.

Dearden will defend on the right and that’s the side the Bunnies love to attack. They will look for the quick play-the-ball and play off that. When that happens it means hooker Damien Cook can get going out of dummy half, which brings fullback Alex Johnston and, of course, five-eighth Cody Walker into play.

This is what I spoke about two years ago after Origin II when NSW failed to exploit the shoulder injury Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston was carrying.

People said it was a simplistic way of looking at things.........

© The Age