The North Queensland Cowboys are open to unveiling NRL flyer Josh Hoffman in the first grade this season.

The former Bronco, Titan and Eel, who has linked up with North Queensland's feeder club, the Townsville Blackhawks this season, is one of several players in the Queensland Cup team that could get an opportunity to play NRL, according to coach Todd Payten.

Ahead of today's trial against the Townsville Blackhawks in Ayr today, Payten spoke up the prospects of a number of Blackhawks players appearing in the first grade.

It comes amid the league's new rules that allows uncontracted second tier players to come into NRL sides from Round 10 onwards as injury cover.

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 29: Joshua Hoffman of the Eels celebrates victory with bis team mates during the round 15 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Canberra Raiders at TIO Stadium on June 29, 2019 in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Speaking to the The Townsville Bulletin's Nick Wright, Payten said he would have faith in the ability of several second tier players if called upon, notably Hoffman.

“I’m of the belief if they’re playing some good footy, some consistent footy over time, I wouldn’t be hesitant in throwing any of those guys in should they deserve and should there be an opportunity,” he told The Townsville Bulletin.

“I’m aware of a lot of those guys, I’ve coached a few of those guys in the past, and there’s a couple of new guys as well.

“Josh Hoffman has filled in a couple of times here on days we’ve been short and he’s looked at ease and comfortable, and he’s just a name that springs to mind that may very well get an opportunity.”

Hoffman played 189 NRL games from 2008-2019 and last appeared at first-grade level for Parramatta in 2019.

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Payten was pleased with his side's intensity over the pre-season and the positive adjustments they've made to their game style.

“Our strength is certainly getting up the field, the way that we’ve attacked our training sessions from day to day has been pretty impressive,” Payten said.

“We’re starting to look like a footy team, and at the moment with the whole way we’ve changed the way we do things it’s been kind of two steps forward, one step backwards.

“Probably the first shift in our mindset in terms of the way we play, we’ve had a big play mentality and we’re just trying to shift that and be more patient and direct.

“But I’m comfortable and I understand that with all the changes that’s the way it’s going to be for a while.

“We don’t entirely understand who’s going to be playing where, but I think the players in the past week have got a good feel of where they stand.”

North Queensland open their 2021 campaign against the Panthers at Penrith Stadium on Saturday March 13.


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