Josh Drinkwater, the man being groomed as the Dragons' long-term halfback option, says he'll "play in the second row if they want me to" just to make his NRL debut this season.
But his chance to crack St George Illawarra's top-grade squad may come even earlier than he expected with established hookers Mitch Rein and Cameron King suffering ailments from a bruising Charity Shield loss to Souths on Friday night.
Of the two, Rein's shoulder complaint is the less serious with the Kiama junior declaring himself a near-certain starter for the season opener against Melbourne on March 10.
King also felt the wrath of English brute George Burgess, knocked unconscious after colliding with the upper arm of the Rabbitohs prop late in the Dragons' 28-10 loss. He will be monitored by medical staff over the next fortnight.
But if King, expected to win a spot in Steve Price's top 17, still shows symptoms of the concussion leading up to the Storm clash it may pave the way for Drinkwater to win a spot on the bench.
The former boom Manly under-20s half said he was eyeing off a top grade debut with his new club in 2013 - even if it meant abandoning his preferred No 7 role.
"I'll play in the second row if they want me to - I'll play anywhere," he joked. "I definitely want to debut - that's my major goal.
"Whether it happens later in the year or early on in the year, it doesn't really matter. I'll just keep plugging away and if Pricey gives the call-up I'll be ready to go."
Price maintained the round one picture still remained clouded after the Charity Shield defeat.
"I'll watch the video again during the week and analyse it with our coaching staff and Ben and we'll go from there," Price said.
"There's a number of positions up for grabs - especially at right centre and the edge back row. There's a couple of reserves available there too. I haven't made my decision, but I will in the near future."
Drinkwater's progression will be of keen interest to Dragons fans after watching club favourite and former captain Ben Hornby hang up the boots last season.
Veterans Nathan Fien and Jamie Soward are Price's preferred halves pairing, but will need time to gel as a combination.
Drinkwater said the pair had nursed him through his first preseason with the Dragons.
"Sowie has been terrific with me, he's always helping me out and pulling me aside," Drinkwater said. "Both of them I can't thank enough. All preseason they've done some really good stuff with me. I've loved it and it was good to get out of my comfort zone and come up with the big boys."