Cowboys playmakers Jake Clifford and Scott Drinkwater will find themselves in a head-to-head battle on Saturday night in a bid to claim the No.6 jersey for round one.
North Queensland assistant coach Josh Hannay said the pair would fill the halves pairing in the trial match against the Broncos and one would be picked to pair up with skipper Michael Morgan the following week.
Asked if Clifford and Drinkwater were playing for a round one berth, Hannay said: "Definitely".
"Both Jake and Drinky have had tremendous pre-seasons and it's been a really good healthy competition there," he said.
"Obviously, Morgs is our captain and has one half spot locked down and those other two guys have gone at it in a really positive manner.
"I think it's been great for both of their individual development as players - one another pushing each other."
Whoever head coach Paul Green thinks performs best in the Cairns trial at Barlow Park will be given the nod to pair up with Michael Morgan in the Cowboys' final trial against Melbourne.
"It is a tightly run race," Hannay said.
"Both guys we have confidence in partnering Morgs in round one.
"They'll be wanting to put their best foot forward this weekend against the Broncos hoping to get the nod for the following weeks' game against the Melbourne Storm."
Hannay said star recruit Valentine Holmes would likely play 20 to 30 minutes against Brisbane in what would be his first game in a Cowboys jersey.
"We'll play him enough minutes to give him a blow-out," the assistant coach said.
"We don't want to leave him out there much longer than that."
Hannay said Holmes was not originally scheduled to play in Saturday night's match.
"I think it was him that approached Greeny about playing this weekend. I think we were probably looking at keeping him fresh for the following week," he said.
"Val has probably got itchy feet and wants to get on the park as soon as he can
"I'm pretty confident and we're pretty confident in what Val will produce. We just want him to come through unscathed like the rest of the players."