Cowboys playmaker Jake Clifford has his sights set on securing the No. 7 jersey this season, but speculation of player transfers is a hot topic in north Queensland.
When asked about Cowboys teammate Ethan Lowe's rumoured move to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Clifford said: "He won't go, he's a very loyal person and he's been a good player for this club for many years."
Lowe to the Rabbitohs would certainly free up the salary cap for Ben Barba's replacement at the Cowboys, but Clifford added: "It's all rumours. I've come in today and didn't know anything about it and I heard a few stabs at it, but other than that I don't think he's going to go."
As for Barba's replacement, the club has targeted Brisbane winger Jordan Kahu on a one-year deal.
"He's a very good player and if he does come to the club, he's going to be another good addition and he’ll be pushing for that fullback spot if he does come," Clifford said.
Meanwhile, Clifford is keen to push his case in the upcoming trial match on the Sunshine Coast and hopes to get some quality playing time to prove his worth.
"It's been a very good pre-season and everyone's getting itchy feet so if I do get to play in that trial I’ll be stoked," he said.
With Te Marie Martin firmly in the fold for the five-eighth position, Clifford is looking forward to the challenges ahead against his teammate.
"Te's a very good player and the whole pre-season we've been at each other and training really well and just competing for that spot, so come trials time hopefully we get to play alongside each other and push for that spot," he said.
But Clifford says despite having a fight on his hands to play more time in his preferred position, he's not feeling the pressure.
"I just want to play some good footy and train really well," he said.
"This is my first pre-season without coming back from an injury, so this pre-season is going to be very good for myself strength wise and hopefully the shoulder pulls up."
Clifford savoured his time playing six games alongside the great Johnathon Thurston.
"It was unbelievable, I grew up looking up to JT and getting to play alongside him was definitely another special moment for me," he said.
"I learnt a lot and it's going to be very beneficial for myself coming into this season."
With that experience comes a greater sense of confidence.
"I feel like the NRL games definitely makes it feel a bit easier coming in this year just confidence wise and stuff like that," Clifford said.
"When it comes to leading the boys out, I'm a lot more confident and really looking forward to it."