Brodie Croft is poised to win back his Brisbane No.7 jersey from Tom Dearden as coach Kevin Walters searches for a winning NRL formula.
Croft was billed as the Broncos' missing piece on his arrival from Melbourne for last season, earning co-captaincy when Alex Glenn was injured and performing solidly as they built a 2-0 start under Anthony Seibold.
But Croft's season spiralled as badly as the club's did once the competition resumed, the halfback eventually switched to five-eighth after 10 rounds as Seibold trialled him unsuccessfully alongside Anthony Milford and then teenager Dearden.
He was overlooked for round 15, then looked lost coming off the bench in a round 16 thrashing by the Sydney Roosters and wasn't sighted again as Brisbane went on to collect their first wooden spoon.
Dearden was widely expected to be given first crack alongside Milford under Walters this season but on Tuesday, less than two weeks out from their opening round date with Parramatta, it was Croft in the box seat at training calling the shots.
Milford's million-dollar-a-season contract expires this year but he says he wants to stay at red Hill and knows his performance will have a huge impact on the club's fortunes.
He's proved his fitness, after a hamstring injury ended his 2020 season and a broken hand impacted his pre-season, and says whoever partners him in the halves isn't his concern.
"They both do the same thing, steer the ship around, get the boys where I want them and get the ball in my hands," he said.
"They're both really similar players; it's Kevvie's headache to have, not mine.
"(My goal is) just staying in the game, making sure I'm present and making a mark ... I'm dying to play."
Milford admitted niggling injuries and criticism of his inconsistencies had bugged him last season but that he was seeing things clearly in 2021.
"Things like that were playing on my mind a little bit," he said.
"So yes, it is a pretty big year for myself because all those things, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"(I need to improve) everywhere to be quite honest with you; in my defence and just make sure I'm in the game."
Australian Associated Press