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Lockyer backs Hoffman, Barba switch

Darren Lockyer has backed Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin's call to convert either Ben Barba or Josh Hoffman into a five-eighth, but has urged fans to be patient.

And Lockyer defended Brisbane's poaching of Canberra young gun Anthony Milford despite Raiders coach Ricky Stuart's protests, saying it is "the nature of the beast".

The switch from fullback to pivot may have been made to look easy by Lockyer during his stellar NRL playing career.

However, the former Australian captain said "time will tell" if Barba or Hoffman would be the best fit to partner Broncos halfback Ben Hunt next NRL season.

"Both players are more dangerous the more times they have their hands on the football but people need to be patient," Lockyer told AAP.

"While five-eighth is not totally foreign to those guys, it will take them time to learn the role. Time will tell."

If superstar No.1 Barba's conversion is successful, it may avoid an awkward stand-off with New Zealand fullback Hoffman.

Hoffman has niggled the Broncos by featuring in social media pictures with Bulldogs contracted players at the World Cup in England.

It has fuelled rumours that Hoffman - contracted until the end of 2015 - will leave Brisbane for Belmore next year in what would be a straight swap for Barba.

However, Hoffman will retain his beloved Broncos No.1 jersey if Barba claims the pivot role at Brisbane.

Lockyer warned of the pitfalls of the switch.

"Both are great runners of the football," he said.

"But I found the increase in the defensive workload was the biggest challenge."

Lockyer said Barba's injection into a backline featuring Hoffman and by 2015 Canberra young gun Milford had made him excited about Brisbane's future.

The Broncos posted their worst season in 2013 - a 10-1-13 record that banished them to 12th on the ladder.

"Anthony Milford is obviously a pretty special talent. He's a kid with huge potential," Lockyer said.

"And also with guys like Ben Barba in the squad, I can see more points being scored for the Broncos in the future, which is exciting."

Lockyer wouldn't bite over Stuart's claim that Brisbane was one of the NRL's worst clubs for player development.

"I know teams are disappointed when they lose their star players - Brisbane lost Corey Norman to Parramatta," he said.

"But it is the nature of the beast.

"The salary cap has been a good leveller for teams.

"Everyone is looking at strengthening their squads and poaching players from one club to another - it is now part of the game."

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