Dearden faces a trial by fire. Image: AAP image, John Gass
Dearden faces a trial by fire. Image: AAP image, John Gass

Seibold’s final warning for failing halves

Brisbane's halves have been put on notice after coach Anthony Seibold named teen sensation Tom Dearden in his 21-man squad.

The 18-year-old Wynnum Manly Seagulls halfback has been highly regarded as the Broncos' future playmaker after a stellar debut season in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup.

His inclusion in the top side comes as the Broncos hope to avoid a fifth consecutive loss when they play Cronulla at Suncorp on Saturday night.

The Broncos are struggling for form in 2019 after falling to their equal worst start in the club's history with a 1-5 win-loss record after six matches.

Halves pairing Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima have copped the brunt of the criticism for the team's dismal start after failing to ignite their side's attack.

NRL playmaking legends Andrew Johns and Johnathan Thurston believe the time has come to wield the axe on the Milford-Nikorima alliance, claiming their combination cannot execute a game plan to make the Broncos a title contender.

Just three days ago, Seibold announced he would not bow to public pressure and will keep the faith in his besieged halves.

However, he sent the pair a message by naming Dearden in the No.20 jersey for the first time this year.

Seibold has shown he isn't afraid of making a late call up from his extended squad after including speedster James Roberts - who also played in the No.20 jersey - in their clash against Canberra.

Dearden has been touted as a future NRL star and played his first senior Broncos trial in February, where he scored two tries in the first 31 minutes in a stunning display among senior company.

Former Queensland Origin star Scott Sattler last week said it was time for Dearden to partner Milford in the Broncos.

Dearden's Under-18s Tweed Heads Seagulls coach Tim McCann claimed he was ready to step up despite his age.

"I think he'll be fine (if named to play for the Broncos)," he said. "He's got an old head on a young body.

"He seems to handle pressure quite well and he's an Australian schoolboy and won a national title."

Time is running out for Nikorima and Milford. Image: Dave Hunt/ AAP
Time is running out for Nikorima and Milford. Image: Dave Hunt/ AAP

McCann said if Dearden wasn't named to play this weekend, he would be playing in a Broncos jersey some time this year.

"I don't think he's far off making his NRL debut in the next little period," he said.

"I know the Broncos are having a few dramas and they might just hesitate because of his age. He's been playing consistent footy in the state league for the last couple of weeks and progressing really well there.

"To throw an 18-year-old against men, I think he'd be able to handle it."

The Broncos will be bolstered this weekend by the return of lock forward Tevita Pangai Jr from suspension while Roberts has been named to start in the centres.

Forward Thomas Flegler and centre Kotoni Staggs have been relegated back to the bench against the Sharks.

Matt Lodge was also named in Seibold's extended squad as he continues to recover from a throat injury.