Fresh off being named the best interchange player in the competition, Jazz Tevaga is aiming to become a starting player in 2019 but concedes he may have to bide his time on the bench for the time being.
The plucky 23-year-old offered the New Zealand Warriors a lethal point of difference off the pine last year, averaging 85 run metres and 36 tackles per game on his way to picking up Dally M Interchange Player of the Year honours.
But despite the breakout season, Tevaga told NRL.com he wasn't sure he had done enough to graduate into a NRL Telstra Premiership starting position just yet.
"Obviously my goal is to start, but I'm happy to be in the 17 wherever I can. I still have a bit of learning to do before I step into a starting role," Tevaga said.
"I prefer lock, I just like being in the middle amongst it all, and growing up that's where I played, so I feel real comfortable at 13.
"[Starting] is the big goal and as long as I keep getting better every day, eventually I will get there.
"It's good to get recognised for all the hard work you have put in, and I felt like coming off the bench I provided a lot of impact to our team last year. I was pleased with the award, it was a bonus. Just having a good season was enough for me, and then receiving the award was the cherry on top."
Kiwi international Tohu Harris has a mortgage on one second row spot, while Bunty Afoa, Isaiah Papali'i and Adam Blair are all capable of playing either on the edge or at lock, leaving Tevaga with plenty of competition for a starting place.
Even the make-up of the Warriors' bench for the round 1 meeting with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Auckland remains somewhat of a mystery, with new arrivals Leeson Ah Mau and Lachlan Burr bolstering the club's forward stocks.
"Mooks (coach Stephen Kearney) hasn't really given us a clear indication yet, so everyone is on their toes and still working really hard," Tevaga said.
"We've had a few good additions to the club with Leeson and Lachlan. Leeson brings a lot of experience and Lachlan is so fit and a real workhorse, so it'll be interesting who Mooks picks."