Positional switches are nothing new in rugby league, with a host of players set to shake up their roles in 2018.
In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of Valentine Holmes, Tyrone Peachey, Matt Moylan and more swap the number on their back, with varying degrees of success.
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.
Sam Burgess also looks likely to make a small switch from lock to prop, to allow young gun, Cameron Murray, a spot in the starting thirteen.
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.