Cowboys utility Ray Thompson says the pressure of competing for spots in a healthy North Queensland roster is far greater than the pressure to back up a successful Nines campaign this weekend.
Speaking to NRL.com just hours ahead of the 2015 NRL season launch in Auckland as the squad piled into a racing boat for a match racing experience on Auckland Harbour, Thompson said he would be using the weekend to try and impress Cowboys coach Paul Green.
"I think any opportunity you have to play in the Cowboys jersey and in front of Greeny is a good opportunity," Thompson said.
With ex-Broncos reserve hooker Jake Granville joining the Cowboys over the off-season and a fit-again Lachlan Coote likely to come into contention for either a fullback or five-eighth role, the only certain selection for Round 1 is Johnathan Thurston in the halves.
"It will be interesting to see how it turns out in Round 1," Thompson said.
"We've got a healthy squad at the moment and we've had some newcomers come in, every position there are some viable candidates, so everyone's going to have to work really hard over the pre-season.
"Obviously I want to play dummy-half, but wherever Greeny puts me I'll put in my best effort. I'll just take it game by game for now, we've got the Nines this weekend, so there's an opportunity to put my best foot forward and we'll see how we go from there."
The side has fond memories of their time in Auckland a year ago, when they earned the club's first piece of silverware by taking out the inaugural Nines competition – and plenty of those players have returned for the second edition.
"Every time you come to a competition and come away with the goods it's always fun memories, we're having a good time at the moment and we'll enjoy [the boating experience] today, but when the weekend comes it's a new competition," Thompson said.
But despite that first-up success, Thompson wasn't convinced there would be added pressure on the side to back it up.
"Yes and no – there was no pressure on us last year so we'll just enjoy the experience again," he said.