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Teenage Broncos halfback Tom Dearden.

Twelve months ago he was their teammate; on Friday night Tom Dearden will be their inspiration.

A group of 25 current and former Palm Beach Currumbin students will turn a section of the southern end of Suncorp Stadium bright red in a show of support for an 18-year-old mate now mixing it with the big boys.

Just two games into his NRL career, Friday night's clash against Cooper Cronk and the Roosters is effectively Dearden's first home game as a Bronco and a section of the expected 30,000-strong crowd will be dedicated solely to the diminutive No.7.

When Dearden was selected to make his debut against the Rabbitohs in round eight, six of his former Palm Beach teammates made the snap decision to drive 10 hours south to Sydney to watch his entry into the NRL.

With football commitments that weekend and some gentle guidance from their school coach Aaron Zimmerle, that expedition was aborted and rescheduled so that they could show up en masse for his home debut.

When Broncos CEO Paul White heard of their plans he arranged for the tickets to be allocated free of charge, providing Dearden with his very own supporter bay in just his third top-grade appearance.

Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Broncos

Captain of the Palm Beach Currumbin team that won the NRL Schoolboy Cup national final last year and winner of the Peter Sterling Medal, it is Dearden's character and not pure footballing ability that is inspiring his schoolboy mates to follow his lead.

"His inspiration comes from his character," Zimmerle told, whose 2019 team defeated St Mary's Toowoomba 18-12 in a hard-fought clash in the second round of the Allan Langer Cup on Wednesday.

"When he came to the school we all knew how talented he was, but he's a humble champion and we need more of those.

"It's what we had with the great Storm players and Queensland Origin players. We know they're the best but they're humble about their ability and it makes it easier for others to be drawn to them and to connect to them."

As he did in two years as captain at the famed Gold Coast rugby league nursery, Zimmerle believes Dearden will soon win the trust and respect of his Broncos teammates, and the adoration of an even larger fan base than those making the trek up the M1 on Friday.

"When Tommy came to the school and was made captain even when he was in Grade 11, he was a bit shy and a bit reserved in terms of delivering speeches and so forth but he led by his actions," said Zimmerle.

"And because he was everyone's mate they would have followed him wherever he went.

"As the next year rolled on he felt more comfortable in the role. His timing and knowing when he could say something to help someone else perform or lift someone else up, you could see those skills start to develop.

"It was really impressive to see him grow in that way and when you look at it now as an 18-year-old amongst men, he's in a great place because he's got the opportunity to do that again.

"He'll work hard to get connected to all of the players that he's with and because that Broncos team is such a young group, they could spend the next 10 years together."

And while their former teammate prepares for a starring role in prime time on Friday night, Zimmerle says the PBC crew are hoping to share in the spotlight, if only for a moment.

"Hopefully we get on TV with all the boys in their red and Tommy scores directly in front of them."

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.

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