Scott Drinkwater will get his shot at North Queensland’s No.1 jersey as new coach Todd Payten considers shifting Valentine Holmes to the wing.
Drinkwater will play mostly at fullback in the Cowboys’ only trial against Brisbane on Saturday night, after training there for part of the preseason.
That is likely to leave Holmes out on an edge, after he battled to refind his best in the No.1 jersey last season on his return to the sport from the NFL.
Drinkwater was considered a fullback when he moved to North Queensland from Melbourne in 2019, after injuries cost him the Storm’s No.1 spot.
However he moved into the halves last season with Holmes’ big-money arrival at the club, and admitted on Tuesday he’d rather stay at five-eighth if given the option.
But regardless, the 23-year-old has spent the majority of his preseason at the back with Jake Clifford the other option.
“I’ll be playing a bit at fullback and I’ve been been five eighth and at half,” Drinkwater said.
“I know I was going to train both in the halves and at fullback but a couple of injuries happened and there’s not much depth there.
“So it just turned out that I kind of had to stay there for most of the preseason.
“It’s a lot more running so I have really had to push myself to get my fitness levels up.”
This season shapes as a crucial one for Drinkwater, given he is one of 13 Cowboys off contract at the end of the year.
“You want to get a contract,” Drinkwater said.
“But I’ll back myself and I think over the past year being off contract I’ve probably played my best footy so I’m confident that I’ll be able to step up.”
Elsewhere, Mitchell Pearce has been named to make his return from a thumb injury in Newcastle’s trial against Melbourne on Saturday night, with Connor Watson’s move to lock also confirmed.
Josh Hodgson is also back for his first game in eight months in Canberra’s clash against the Sydney Roosters, where Lachlan Lam is expected to have his first game in the halves.
And Jaxson Paulo will start on the wing in the Charity Shield for South Sydney, ahead of Josh Mansour who is named on the bench.