Positional switches are nothing new in rugby league, with a host of players set to shake up their roles in 2018.
Down in Redfern, a few players look set to switch their roles, with Greg Inglis set to return to the centre role that saw him star in rep sides for a decade, handing the fullback role to Alex Johnston, who finally gets his chance to make the number one his own.
Meanwhile in Cronulla, Josh Dugan will finally make a full-time move to the centres after flirting with the switch over the last few seasons. The change could be a masterstroke from Shane Flanagan, with Dugan being a ball-runner as opposed to a ball-player, an essential skill for a fullback.
Michael Morgan and Jonathan Thurston could swap jerseys, with Morgan’s newfound ownership of the side possibly demanding the number seven jersey.
While there isn’t too much separating the role of a halfback and that of a five-eighth in the modern era, Morgan proved over the finals series that he can be the dominant half, which should only allow Jonathan Thurston a more simplified role in his return to the field.
Garth Brennan has started his career as a first-grade coach boldly, moving his captain Ryan James from the front-row out wider to the back-row, a role he made his own a few seasons ago, but has since starred as a prop.
Corey Oates is risking it all in a shift the forwards this season, despite earmarking himself as one of the best finishers in the NRL. With so many quality second-rowers already roaming in the NRL, the move could well see his rep future indefinitely stalled.
Sione Mata’utia returns to the centres after an eighteen-month stint in the back-row. While his time spent in the forwards was riddled with multiple concussions, his defence improved tenfold, meaning the former Kangaroo returns to the backline a stronger player than the one that left it.
And arguably the biggest move sees Jarryd Hayne return to the club in an unfamiliar position, the centres, after a failed move to the Gold Coast. Playing in a side infinitely more stable and settled in comparison to the one he departed, Hayne is set to flourish in a simplified role as he searches for the form he left in Parramatta over three years ago.
While a positional switch could make or break a player’s career, 2018 is set to yield some brave moves for the game’s biggest names. Whether they pay off or not, is a question that’ll take a few more months to answer.