You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Rugby league Immortal Wally Lewis has two sage pieces of advice for 18-year-old Broncos half Tom Dearden ahead of his NRL debut on Thursday night and that is to run the football and communicate.

Lewis said the giant South Sydney pack would target Dearden but has encouraged him to take them on with the ball in hand.

It is 41 years since an 18-year-old Lewis, playing lock, made a stunning debut in the Brisbane Rugby League (BRL) competition for Valleys at Neumann Oval when he scored three tries and announced himself as a star doing exactly that.

"You look at the size of the Rabbitohs and there is no secret to their success and what they will try and do. They will target him," Lewis said.

"I'll be happy if the little bloke does run at the big blokes and make them feel uncomfortable. A sidestep or two will make them feel as though they are the novices of the competition. They won't enjoy lining up against a little bloke whose footwork is too good for their defensive capabilities.

"That is the best thing I can advise young kids, especially in the halves, is to run the ball because you'll not just have the defence thinking about the bloke running off you. There is that decision making process in the opposition's mind of 'is he going to run the ball or is he going to pass it?' Beat them once and the first thing in the mind of those opposite you is doubt."

Tom Dearden to make Broncos debut

In 1978 Lewis lined up alongside Valleys Diehards captain and half Ross Strudwick whose talk on the field was legendary.

"Communication is the number one issue and the most important thing on the football field, so the most important thing [Dearden] can do is communicate," Lewis said.

"That is the best advice I ever give anybody on first grade football.

"Johnny Rhodes was my first coach, a former international. Ross Strudwick was the captain.  He was the best talker that I ever saw on the field.

"He just used to make sure he made you feel a lot better."

Lewis has been impressed with Dearden's confidence and running game while playing for Wynnum-Manly in the Intrust Super Cup.

He said age would not count against the former Palm Beach Currumbin High School star.

"I have had it asked of me 'but he is only 18' but… if he wasn't good enough he wouldn't be here in the first place," Lewis said.

"His performances at club level [for Wynnum-Manly] so far have been good.

"I am like everyone else. It will be good to watch him. He will probably take nerves onto the field, but it will only take one cart of the football or the first hit to get rid of that.

"I've seen him playing in the Q Cup and he seems to have plenty of ability and he will step up to the biggest challenge of his life as long as he has got faith in his own ability and the support of his teammates."

Bennett v Seibold showdown

Broncos prop Matt Lodge has vowed that the Broncos will not let South Sydney ride roughshod over Dearden.

"He hasn't been tested yet in the top [grade] but we have got his back and hopefully he does a great job. We will look after him," Lodge said.

"For his age he is pretty tough and takes the line on. He's not afraid to get in front of people and that is all we need from him.

"They might try and target him, but we might target their halves. Every half gets targeted now so he is going to have to learn to expect that. We'll do our best to support him."

Lewis made his BRL first grade debut on April 9, 1978 – a famous date in Queensland that ushered in the start of a stellar career. Weeks later newsagents around Brisbane showcased promotional posters for Rugby League Week magazine with the tagline 'Wally Lewis: Wonder Boy' emblazoned across them.

The Broncos will be hoping May 2, 2019 will be remembered just as fondly in future in Dearden's case.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners