Valentine Holmes' return to the NRL is set to provide welcomed selection headaches for the Queensland Maroons in the outside backs in next year's State of Origin series.
That is the view of Maroons assistant coach Justin Hodges who said Holmes' likely resumption of his Queensland career could see a switch of Dane Gagai from the wing to the centre position where he played the majority of his club football for South Sydney in 2019.
Holmes is expected to line up at fullback for the Cowboys next season, his favoured position, and if he fires will keep the heat on Maroons custodian Kalyn Ponga.
It is on the wing that Holmes has starred for the Maroons with eight tries in just five Origin games.
The retirement of Greg Inglis at the start of this year and Will Chambers' exit to Japanese rugby union has created an opportunity in the centres.
The Maroons played Cowboys half Michael Morgan out of position in the centres with mixed success this year and are hoping the next generation of players in that position put their hands up in 2020.
Green backs Holmes to come back a better player
Holmes' return to the wing for Queensland may well assist in filling a void that exists in the centres.
"He has been out of the game for a little bit but I am super excited to have him back in rugby league… and I think Kevvie [Walters] will be very happy," Hodges said.
"We missed Val's experience on the wing this year and I think he puts a lot of other guys under pressure to perform.
"Big Corey Oates has been good there and having Val come back puts more pressure on him and Dane Gagai. With Will Chambers leaving that centre spot becomes available so we'll look at maybe moving him in and that frees up a spot for Val. We'll just have to wait and see."
Ponga missed Game Three of the 2019 Origin series with injury and Cameron Munster, the Maroons' first-choice five-eighth, returned to the fullback position where he was one of Queensland's best in a narrow series decider loss.
With injuries always on the cards Hodges said Munster's form in the custodian's role, along with Holmes' ability to play in the position, would make fullback another hotly contested spot.
"That is what you want. You want guys putting pressure on each other. Cam Munster played fullback in Game Three and was absolutely electric. Having those headaches is a good thing, and Corey Norman was also outstanding at five-eighth," Hodges said.
"All those guys early in the season need to hit the ground running and make sure the selectors and Kevvie find a spot for them. The most important thing is having all our guys playing well so we can pick our best 17 because we are going to need our best 17 to compete with NSW. They have the running at the moment and have won the last two years but we want to bring the trophy home to Queensland."