Brisbane's leadership void has been laid bare after scans confirmed Pat Carrigan's season-ending ACL rupture.
His absence, coupled with first-choice skipper Alex Glenn still being sidelined by a calf problem, now has a quintet of unlikely captaincy contenders being lined up by coach Kevin Walters.
Glenn is still 2-3 weeks away, meaning playmakers Jake Turpin and Anthony Milford are in the captaincy mix alongside forwards Payne Haas, Matthew Lodge and Tevita Pangai jnr.
Walters is yet to make a call on who will lead the Broncos in Friday's Magic Round clash with Manly and beyond.
But he is hardly spoilt for proven choices given Milford is fighting for his career at the club while Haas, Lodge and Pangai have courted off-field controversy with alarming consistency.
Pangai appeared to take the captaincy duties upon himself when Carrigan went down in Saturday's agonising 19-18 loss to the Cowboys.
The in-form back-rower remains on probation after last year being stood down without pay for multiple contract breaches.
Pangai has not put a toe out of line since returning to the NRL and been one of Brisbane's best performers this year, though it would still be an incredible turnaround and show of faith to hand him the captaincy.
Lodge too is regarded as an on-field leader and has been considered for the captaincy previously, though fierce public backlash led to that being abandoned given his imprisonment and serious charges over his infamous 2015 incident in New York.
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Like Milford, he is unsure if he will be at Red Hill next season as well given the Broncos are willing to pay a sizeable portion of his multi-year contract if another club pursues the 25-year-old prop.
Haas meanwhile has been in fine form alongside Lodge up front, but is still just 21 and was suspended for the first three games of the season for his abusive tirade at police officers in February.
Turpin looms as one of few cleanskin captaincy candidates but is still just 32 games into his NRL career, while last year's vice-captain Brodie Croft was dropped to the Intrust Super Cup recently, turning out for Wynnum-Manly on the weekend.
Carrigan's injury costs Brisbane one of their hardest toilers in the middle, but does open the door for John Asiata to claim the No.13 jersey and highly rated youngster Brendan Piakura to debut against the Sea Eagles.
The Broncos enjoyed a rare recruitment win this year when the 18-year-old knocked back lucrative offers from Canterbury and the Gold Coast to re-sign until the end of 2024.
Piakura was 18th man in Townsville last weekend with Walters indicating during the week that he is closing in on a much-anticipated NRL debut.
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"Unfortunately our worst fears were confirmed by the scan in that Pat has a ruptured ACL," Broncos head of performance Andrew Croll said on Monday.
"Pat will see a surgeon this week to confirm the next course of action which will be surgery.
"He will miss the remainder of the 2021 season and the club is providing Pat with all the support he needs."