Brodie Croft's return as Brisbane's halfback firmed while Corey Oates emerged as a shock option at centre for last season's wooden spooners, who continue to shuffle through their options just days out from their NRL opener against Parramatta.
Under Anthony Seibold, the 23-year-old Croft was given the keys at Red Hill after four seasons with Melbourne, even co-captaining the side when Alex Glenn was injured.
It did not last though, Croft eventually axed for teenager Tom Dearden as Brisbane finished last in 2020, with unwanted records in a host of statistical categories.
But Croft appears to have convinced new coach Kevin Walters he deserves another chance against the Eels on Friday, with Dearden largely training in the reserves group and even asked to prove himself for Souths Logan in a Queensland Cup trial game on Saturday.
Whoever does partner Anthony Milford in the halves will be under immense pressure to set the tone after a woeful 2020.
They could have some unfamiliar faces outside of them too, with Walters forced to experiment with his left-edge combinations even before a game has been played.
Herbie Farnworth (chest) and Jesse Arthars (ankle) are both doubtful to face the Eels so it was Oates and Richie Kennar cycling through the centre position, with returning winger David Mead on the flank at Red Hill.
At one point among the game's elite wingers, Oates is angling for a shift to the back row but appears well down the pecking order in a position at which the club enjoys rare depth.
He could still find himself earning game time in a new slot, though, if Farnworth does not recover from a nasty infection and subsequent minor surgery that robbed him of valuable pre-season conditioning time.
The 32-year-old Mead played nine seasons in the NRL with Gold Coast and Brisbane and is back after three years playing in France.
He said any uncertainty around selection this close to round one had worked in their favour.
"It's been like that the whole pre-season, a few changes here and there," he said.
"We have an idea what the 17 will be but we'll wait and see what Kev says tomorrow.
"It's a good thing because there's competition for spots - if there was certainty from the start of January we wouldn't have the same competition (for places) out of players."
Australian Associated Press