The North Queensland Cowboys are reportedly weighing up how to best manage their situation in the second-row, with four players contesting spots from the word go in 2024.

Despite letting go of Thomas Gilbert at the end of 2022, Todd Payten's side have an unexpected headache to resolve when it comes to team selections just 12 months later.

The returns of Heilum Luki (from injury) and Luciano Leilua (from the no-fault stand-down role), to go with the continued improvement of Queensland State of Origin contender Jeremiah Nanai and breakout form of Kulikefu Finefuiaki have left the club with too many players for the spots available.

Three of the four players at most would likely be picked for any game, and according to Fox Sports, that and salary cap management and distrbitution across the squad is causing the Cowboys to weigh up whether it may be in their best interested to move one of the four players out of Townsville.

It's believed Leilua, given his price tag, may be the most likely to find a way out of the club following his mid-season switch in 2022 from the Wests Tigers, which at the time was touted as one of the biggest moves the Cowboys had made in some time.

He has failed to live up to his potential for the Cowboys though, and it has left the club pondering their options.

It may well be the Canberra Raiders who come to the table should they put Leilua up for sale. The green machine have an unexpected Top 30 spot available following the surprise decision of 20-year-old centre Brad Morkos, who has already represented Lebanon and is a former under-19 New South Wales player, to step away from the game.

His top 30 spot being open will likely see the Raiders target a back-rower.

The club have made it clear that the second-row is their recruitment priority, having had multiple cracks at David Fifita in the last 18 months among others. It was believed the Raiders were set to make a play for Keaon Koloamatangi before he elected to put pen to paper on a contract extension with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Canberra would likely have the money for Leilua's contract, and a walk up starting spot alongside Hudson Young, with Elliott Whitehead happy to play more of a middle role in what will be his final NRL season after experimenting with the switch in 2023.