SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 06: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad of the Raiders looks on during the 2019 NRL Grand Final match between the Canberra Raiders and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Canberra Raiders legend Brett Mullins has identified Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad as the man who should play at fullback in Round 1 for the green machine.

One of the biggest questions of the off-season has surrounded the Raiders number one jersey.

Nicoll-Klokstad played an enormous role in taking the Raiders to the grand final in 2019 wearing the jumper, but missed much of the 2020 season with injury, making just eight appearances, of which two came from the bench following his return from injury.

Between Rounds 5 and 22 inclusive, Nicoll-Klokstad wasn't on the park for Ricky Stuart's side, which forced the coach to experiment with plenty of different options.

Jordan Rapana was among the players to spend time at the back, however, it was Savage who stole the show when he made his debut at the back end of the season.

An injury of his own though curtailed his season and left questions for this year, with Nicoll-Klokstad to return.

It has been reported Savage could be maintained at fullback, with Nicoll-Klokstad to move into the front line and play at centre. A strong performance from Savage in the first trial against the Sydney Roosters on Friday will only increase that line of thought.

NRL Rd 18 - Raiders v Sharks
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Xavier Savage of the Raiders is tackled during the round 18 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Cronulla Sharks at Cbus Super Stadium, on July 17, 2021, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Regi Varghese/Getty Images)

However, Mullins told The Canberra Times that Nicoll-Klokstad should be Canberra's starting fullback.

"He's tried and tested ... I'll stick with Charnze. He's coming back from injury with his neck, it would've taken a bit of confidence out of him," Mullins told the publication.

"I wouldn't go past Charnze at the moment anyway."

Despite that, he indicated Savage looks like an "excitement machine."

"He looks like he's a bit of an excitement machine. You can't take too much out of trial matches, but he's got a little bit of X-factor in him which is what you need in a footy side," Mullins said.

"Going off one trial match, they're in good stead leading up to the next few trials and the first round."

Nicoll-Klokstad spent time in the centres, the halves and at fullback during the game against the Roosters, with the Raiders set to take on the Manly Sea Eagles next week in another opportunity for Stuart to assess as both players push their case.

The injury to Harley Smith-Shields and departure of Bailey Simonsson has meant the Raiders are short on backline depth for the season ahead, although the return of Jarrod Croker is a shot in the arm for Stuart's side at centre.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: Jarrod Croker of the Raiders looks on during the round eight NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canberra Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium on April 28, 2018 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

With Nick Cotric, Croker, Savage, Nicoll-Klokstad, Sebastian Kris and Matthew Timoko fighting for the spots in the back five, Stuart has been left with an intriguing dilemma over the direction he takes his side.

Should Savage play fullback, then it could be that one of Kris or Timoko are forced to play on the wing with Croker and Nicoll-Klokstad in the centres, while Nicoll-Klokstad playing fullback would allow Savage to play on the wing and one of Kris and Timoko to play in their preferred centre position.

The Raiders will open their season against the Cronulla Sharks on March 11.