While he still remains winless at his new club, North Queensland halfback Tom Dearden says he's relishing in greener pastures after his move to the Cowboys.
The 20-year-old was in and out of first grade with Brisbane, before leaving the club in a mid-year switch to the Cowboys on a three-year deal.
Dearden, a Mackay product, has experienced just one win in 2021, a victory over Canterbury in round three.
"It's a motivating factor every week to go out there and win the game, but the fire in my belly is even more now that it's been a while since I've won," he said.
"Every week I'm getting more and more comfortable around the group and I think I'm starting to put my performances together on the field.
"He's (coach Todd Payten) kept encouraging me every week to just play my own game and to really concentrate on what I can do for the team and getting my job done."
His toughest task in the no.7 jumper awaits as a rampaging Melbourne Storm outfit look to register a club-record 15th consecutive win when the side's meet on Friday.
But Dearden is confident even amidst injuries to Cowboys stars Valentine Holes and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow the Cowboys are up for the impending challenge.
"Melbourne are probably the benchmark, they're playing really good footy at the moment and they're doing everything right and they've put some really big scorelines on teams," he said.
"This week we've just had a real big focus on our defence and really trying to match it with them.
"Everyone gets up to play the top of the ladder so we're in for a big game this week."
The Cowboys will welcome Chad Townsend in 2022 as the perfect mentor to their young halves combination in Scott Drinkwater and Dearden.
A premiership-winning playmaker, Townsend's introduction is instrumental to shaping Dearden's future which is something he says was lacking at the Broncos.
"Down at the Broncos it probably was a bit of a tough experience, but I've moved on from that now," he said.
"I feel like I can I can really improve and become the player I want to become up here."
Australian Associated Press