Talk of Valentine Holmes or Clint Gutherson coming to Townsville may be swirling but Cowboys coach Paul Green insists Te Maire Martin is in the box seat to make the No.1 jersey his own.
Martin switched from the halves to fullback in last week’s demoralising loss to the Sharks to accommodate with Jake Clifford coming in at No.6 and Jordan Kahu moving into the centres.
“The defensive side of the game is different, [compared to playing in the halves] and Te is a guy that works extremely hard on each game," Green said.
"He's very keen to do well and that’s why he’s the player he is, but he was just as disappointed individually in his game and those efforts in particular last week.
“He also came up with a pretty good try which other players may not have been able to do.”
North Queensland's original choice to play fullback this year, Ben Barba, was sacked in the pre-season and Green said the vital spot in the backs was ideally “not a position you can chop and change”.
Cowboys v Raiders - Round 4
“We went into the season with a guy in mind for fullback and we all know what's happened there, but it's a key position and you don't tend to carry too many of them in your squad, the salary cap doesn’t allow you to do that," Green said.
The Cowboys have made no secret of their interest in Holmes, who is in the US chasing his NFL dream. And Gutherson's name has also been thrown into the mix as his future at Parramatta remains uncertain.
Asked if Gutherson is a player of interest, Green was coy: "It hasn’t been mentioned to me but he’s certainly a good player."
His immediate focus is the Raiders, whose dangerous kicking game from close range is sure to have commanded plenty of attention this week.
Martin was left red-faced last week when he let a ball roll around in the in-goal and Shark Briton Nikora pounced on the loose ball to score.
“It’s part of his role to clean up those kicks. He was pretty disappointed with what happened last week," Green said.
"We spoke about it this week and did some practice on the training paddock, so he needs to make sure he gets his job right in the game."
Despite going into the Canberra clash with a 1-3 record, Green was optimistic about his team’s chances as long as they contain Raiders rake Josh Hodgson.
“It's about getting consistency with how we play. If you get caught up in week to week wins and losses, that can add pressure," the coach said.
“We were good in the first week, poor in the second week, poor in the third week for probably 20 minutes of a half. The difference between our good and our bad is just too big at the moment. We need to narrow that gap.
“Hodgson is a real key to what they do in attack. He is the linchpin to it."