Cowboys recruit Ben Hannant has signalled his intention to push for a place in the defending champions' Auckland Nines squad as North Queensland players assemble for day one of pre-season training in Townsville.
A 1.2 kilometre time trial was just one of the torture tests on coach Paul Green's agenda for the first day of pre-season on Wednesday with Hannant confident of acclimatising quickly having competed in the recent Noosa Triathlon and enjoyed a surf trip to Bali during his break.
The former Rooster, Bulldog and Bronco signed a one-year with the Cowboys when it became clear that after four years back at the Broncos there would no longer be a place for him in Brisbane and he said he is eager to make a good first impression.
"I'm expecting a hot day up here that's for sure," Hannant told Cowboys TV on the eve of his first training session with the club. "I've been in Bali on a surf trip so I'm used to the heat from that and looking forward to the 1.2km time trial that's planned and hopefully all goes well and I get off to a good start to the pre-season.
"I actually did the Noosa Triathlon which was fun. I did the Legends one (with former Bronco teammates Dale Copley and Lachlan Maranta) and then I did the full one myself so that was an eye-opener to see where I was at and I'm pretty happy with where I'm at in the start of pre-season.
"I've got all faith that 'Crolly' (Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Andrew Croll who previously spent eight years at the Broncos) will get me in top shape and can't wait to get started and get ready for this Nines comp that's starting in a couple of months time."
In winning the inaugural Auckland Nines competition back in February the Cowboys weren't afraid to stack their team with big bodies with James Tamou, Jason Taumalolo, Gavin Cooper and Tariq Sims all members of the first team to bring a trophy back to Townsville.
A front row rotation of Hannant, Tamou and co-captain Matthew Scott shapes as one of North Queensland's major trump cards heading into 2015 and Hannant is confident that the competition for spots will bring the best out in the three representative front-rowers.
"I think it will be fantastic for all of us. If we can keep working well with each other and push each other it will make individually our games better which will be great for the club," the 29-year-old said.
"For the Cowboys moving forward, if we keep working together and pushing it's good signs for the middle of the field and I look forward to building good combinations with those two front-rowers.
"Being at the Broncos I didn't know too much about the culture up here at the Cowboys so I'm looking forward to getting to know the fans, the players, the staff and finding out what the Cowboys are all about and buying into it.
"I just think it's a great club up here on the up. The way they finished the season off this year was fantastic and they've still got some in the tank and hopefully I can add a bit to it and give this competition a big shake next year.
"I'm just excited about getting stuck in and playing footy with this great team."