Utility back Jordan Kahu.

The Cowboys have lured Kiwi international Jordan Kahu north from Queensland rivals Brisbane as Ben Barba's replacement for 2019.

Kahu will link with North Queensland immediately on a one-year deal after being granted a release from the Broncos, who, with a raft of emerging backline talent including Kotoni Staggs and Gehamat Shibasaki, could not guarantee the 28-year-old a regular starting spot.

But Kahu is likely to be the latest successor to Matty Bowen's famed No.1 jersey following Barba's sacking over an alleged altercation with his partner outside Townsville's casino earlier this month.

With the ability to play anywhere in the back five, Kahu's versatility also keeps open the possibility of North Queensland chasing former Cronulla star Valentine Holmes this year or next should his NFL venture fall through.

Kahu will be the third Bronco to make the shift north in 2019, joining Josh McGuire and Tom Opacic.

He also solves the Cowboys goal kicking conundrum following the retirement of Johnathan Thurston, booting 145 goals from 188 attempts at 77 per cent over the course of his NRL career.

"To pick up a player of Jordan’s ability and experience at this stage of the pre-season is a massive bonus for us," Cowboys coach Paul Green said.

"He gives us depth at a number of positions, he’s a very good centre and he's played wing and fullback as well.

"His goal kicking ability is the added bonus on top of everything else he offers."

It's believed that Kahu's arrival in Townsville will precipitate the release of forward Ethan Lowe to join South Sydney.

Last year Lowe took up an option in his favour to remain at the Cowboys in 2019, but found himself relegated down the club's back-row pecking order as they struggled to avoid the wooden spoon.

NRL.com understands the Cowboys would not stand in the 27-year-old's way if a release is requested.