SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Scott Drinkwater of the Cowboys celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round five NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval, on April 11, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The North Queensland Cowboys entered the 2022 season with plenty of question marks, however, one that no one expected the team to face was the problem of what to do when you have an embarrassment of riches.

Cowboys coach Todd Payten has a very real decision to make when superstar fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow returns from a knee injury in next week's Round 8 clash against the Parramatta Eels.

Payten's fullback selection this upcoming week will be put under the microscope after Tabuai-Fidow's replacement, Scott Drinkwater, impressed in last night's 30-4 flogging of the Gold Coast Titans.

And this isn't the first impressive start for Drinkwater in his run as the injured fullback's replacement.

Drinkwater, who was controversially left out of the Cowboys starting 17 for the first five rounds after starring for a North Queensland side in what was a maligned year for the club in 2021, has rocketed back into the limelight.

The former Central Coast junior, who began his professional career at the Melbourne Storm, was shoved from the Cowboys halves in favour of youngster Tom Dearden and marquee off-season signing Chad Townsend to begin the year.

NRL Rd 2 - Cowboys v Raiders
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Tom Dearden of the Cowboys in action during the round two NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canberra Raiders at Qld Country Bank Stadium, on March 19, 2022, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

However, Drinkwater, after donning the No. 1 jersey in Round 5, has starred for a Cowboys outfit that over the last three games has gone 2-1.

This resurgence was capped off by a clinic from Drinkwater, which saw the 24-year-old finish with a try, try assist, a tackle break, a line break and over 140 total run metres on the Cowboy's way to beating the Titans.

While no one assumed any contention would arise during Drinkwater's tenure as fullback for the Cowboys, real questions have begun to surface around how Payten will fit both Tabuai-Fidow and the former Storm half into the side.

“This is a special play from Scotty Drinkwater,” Corey Parker said on Fox League during halftime about Drinkwater's try.

“He has been in everything in the first half. He breaks from the scrum and brings Val Holmes under and splits the defenders. Once again gets on the outside of David Fifita. Too much speed.

“We saw what he can do with the ball over in the 9s a couple of years ago. This is a special play. He does not get a hand laid on him.

Scott Drinkwater has been absolutely outstanding attacking form for the Cowboys."

Following the game, Sydney Roosters legend and Fox League host Braith Anasta questioned the decision by Payten to omit Drinkwater from the team in the first five rounds.

Scott Drinkwater some people were asking why he wasn’t playing at the start of the year and he is showing why he should have been,” Anasta said.

“He came up with an awesome first 40 minutes and he backed it up in the second half.”

After suffering a setback in his recovery from a knee complaint, Tabuai-Fidow is expected to return this coming Friday night against the Eels.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 28: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow of the Cowboys celebrates after scoring a try during the round 12 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the New Zealand Warriors at QCB Stadium, on May 28, 2021, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Payten has a few options as he approaches team selection.

Tabuai-Fidow could slot onto the wing, likely replacing Feldt, and Drinkwater could stay at fullback essentially riding the hot hand.

However, the more likely option is that Drinkwater becomes a do-it-all utility, replacing veteran hooker Jake Granville on the bench.

While Drinkwater, who's contracted with the Cowboys until the end of 2023, hasn't had experience playing hooker in first grade, he's a trained ballplayer and has a knack for knowing when to run and when to pass.

While this will certainly be a selection headache for Payten, it's never a bad problem when you have too much talent to fill a roster.