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Cowboys utility Ben Hampton

Ben Hampton is used to answering the "same question every year" - which is his preferred position?

The Cowboys utility will happily play wherever asked by new coach Todd Payten, but he wants another chance in the halves.

Hampton played four matches at five-eighth last season but didn't feature in the team after round 15.

He's competing against Scott Drinkwater, Jake Clifford and Daejarn Asi to partner captain Michael Morgan in 2021, with the team aiming for more consistency at the scum-base.

The 28-year-old has started 20 of his 104 NRL games in the halves - the majority for Melbourne - but prior to last year he hadn't worn North Queensland's No.6 jersey since 2017.

"I was so grateful for that opportunity in the halves towards the end of last year from [interim head coach Josh Hannay] and I would've loved to have stayed there, tried to grow my game and get better and better," Hampton said.

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"That didn't happen, so if I get another opportunity like that I'll definitely take it ... I haven't had any time there at all really, I guess, in the last couple of years to try and improve my game."

However, Hampton said he's accustomed to constantly moving around the field and doesn't mind plugging gaps. And believes an interchange utility is important with the game's increased speed.

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"Having the player off the bench that can cover a number of different positions – and we've got a couple of those boys here at the club that can do that – I think there's definitely value in it," he said.

Meanwhile, Shane Wright is one of several edge forwards aiming to fill the opening left by retired veteran Gavin Cooper in Townsville.

Wright played eight games in 2020, taking his tally to 25 overall, and is keen to step up and cement a spot.

"There's a lot of competition in my position, but when I do get a crack [the key is] just finding some consistency," he said.

"I always say my work ethic and my fitness is a game-changer for my position, but I probably need to do a bit more with the ball this year, so I'm looking to work a bit more on my attack."