The late-blooming Adam Clune finally broke into first grade last season, but the incumbent Dragons halfback now has to prove himself to new coach Anthony Griffin.
Clune, who played 15 NRL matches after debuting in round four under Paul McGregor, isn't sure where he stands in Griffin's pecking order but said the coach has declared all spots up for grabs.
The 25-year-old developed steadily in 2020, fitting into the team because Origin star Ben Hunt often shifted from the halves to hooker, in turn pushing captain Cameron McInnes to lock.
Griffin believes he can get Hunt firing - so too five-eighth Corey Norman, having coached the pair at under-20s and NRL level for Brisbane - but hasn't given a firm indication on where he'll be used.
"We've got a new coaching staff here, some new systems, and we've got some great other players vying for the halves," Clune said.
"I've got to put my best foot forward at training every day, try to get better, because it's going to help my chances of getting a spot.
"I've got to trial well, train well, and if things fall into place then I'll be looking to take the opportunity. But I definitely don't feel like it's my jumper or I earnt that or I should get the first crack.
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"I've got a lot of work to do to get that."
Clune said he hadn't yet spoken at length with Griffin about his potential role for the upcoming season.
"In terms of individual talk, I haven't had a whole lot to do. I've asked for a little bit of feedback and he's given me a little bit," he said.
"He's sort of said keep working hard and I need to keep talking on the field, obviously that's super important as a half."
Despite Griffin's deep-rooted connections with Hunt and Norman, Clune is confident that he'll have every chance to earn a jumper.
"I think Hook [Griffin] is a man of his word - that seems to be the case in terms of how we're approaching training. Everyone seems to be fighting for the spot, no one's really guaranteed a position," he said.
Having been on a part-time contract for several years until last season - subsequently earning a deal until the end of 2022 - Clune is feeling increasingly assured.
"Obviously very proud to get there and really stoked to be here, but hopefully that's just the start - I don't want to come and [only] play 15 games," he said.
"I really want to push for a long career. I love playing footy and I feel like I have something to offer the Dragons. I want to be here for a long time and help get the club to a premiership.
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"I think coming into the 2021 pre-season, more so than even when I was playing last year, [I have] that belief. That's still something I'm really looking to build. It took me a while [to debut] and probably looked like it wasn't going to happen there at one stage.
"But I've really got that belief now that I can come in, help guide the team around and do a job as a seven, or a six if need be."
The addition of 2010 premiership-winning pivot Jamie Soward as a halves and kicking coach has helped Clune.
"Having Jamie coming here once each week and really focusing on kicking and giving us feedback while we're kicking has been super beneficial," he said.
"You can sort of tell from the way we started kicking in mid-November when he first came in to now, just little things and little comments that he's made have helped everyone."