NRL Rd 9 - Cowboys v Broncos
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 08: Connelly Lemuelu of the Cowboys celebrates after winning the round nine NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos at QCB Stadium, on May 08, 2021, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

North Queensland Cowboys centre Connelly Lemuelu has revealed he is in for a permanent swap to the back-row.

His transition from centre to second-rower raised eyebrows when the Cowboys released their team to play the South Sydney Rabbitohs this weekend in the club's first trial ahead of kick-off in the 2022 season.

Lemuelu, who played 13 games at centre last year, scoring a try and running for 104 metres per contest on average, is on-contract with the Townsville-based club until the end of the year and has the power to negotiate with other clubs.

He told the club website that he began training in the new role during the pre-season.

"I made the transition to back-row towards the end of the first block of pre-season," Lemuelu said.

"I think I have been going pretty well there during training, so I'm just looking forward to getting out there and seeing how I go in the game and showing Toddy (coach Todd Payten) that I have what it takes and put my hand up for Round 1."

North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage and Fan Day In Ayr
AYR, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 13: Cowboys coach Todd Payten looks on during a North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage game against the Townsville Blackhawks at Rugby Park on February 13, 2021 in Ayr, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

He also confirmed that the move to the back-row is a long-term move, with it representing his best chance to play first grade. Standing at 190 centimetres tall and 106 kilograms, that shouldn't come as a surprise.

"If I want to play first-grade, that is the position I have the best chance of playing in," he told the media.

"I've spent the whole pre-season working on my game in the back-row, all my defensive movements and line running, so it'll be a long-term move for myself."

The move to second-row could be seen as a way for him to reinvent himself, with the 23-year-old having made just 20 NRL appearances since his debut in Round 6 of the 2020 season.

He wasn't closing the door on being able to play in the centres though, saying versatility could help his cause to play in the NRL.

"I think it's always good to have a bit of variety in your game. Being able to handle a few positions comes in handy and gives the coach a reason to put you in the team," Lemuelu said.

He also confirmed who he believed was ahead of him for a Round 1 jersey.

"We have got some good dynamic back rowers in Heilum Luki and Jeremiah Nanai. Those two boys have pretty big raps on them, and the club do too," he added.

"Everyone in the building is excited for what they can do this year, so they probably have the spots at the moment."

His first run in the back-row will come in Cairns on Saturday evening against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.