Darius Boyd has ensured his Queensland fullback jumper won't be handed over without a fight after a top-shelf performance against South Sydney just days out from the team reveals for game two in Sydney.
The drums are pounding for Billy Slater to make a return to the Maroons after he came up with the winning play against premiers Cronulla. After toughing out some heavy physical contact, selectors have given the green light for his return.
But Boyd showed just how difficult it would be to shift him from his favoured position after a quality outing in an entertaining 24-18 victory over a much-improved Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium.
While most of the pre-game talk revolved around the demotion of Ben Hunt to the Ipswich Jets, Boyd would step up in his playmaking duties to be heavily involved in a number of tries and cart the ball back with venom.
Wayne Bennett rates Boyd as the best fullback in the game but said it would almost be a 'relief' if Slater was returned to the role, given the speculation around the role since Queensland's game one defeat.
Boyd said: "I try not to listen to it (the debate). There's a lot of drama and speculation in all positions."
He may well be shifted to the centres to accommodate Slater but Maroons coach Walters could hardly contain himself at times in the commentary box, exclaiming 'Geez he's a good fullback' as Boyd injected himself into the contest time and again.
In any case, Hunt's stint in the Intrust Super Cup may not be any longer than a week, with Anthony Milford suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder that could sideline him for at least six weeks.
Bennett would confirm the injury after the match, saying at worst case he could be gone for the season.
You couldn't have made up the start. Kodi Nikorima, in for Hunt, would pay the ultimate tribute by dropping the kick-off. It was a different venue but almost the exact same spot as Hunt's infamous gaffe in the 2015 grand final.
As a meme generator, it was a highly productive move. For the Broncos, it earned them a defensive set on their line within seconds of play, although Souths wouldn't be able to take any advantage of the halfback's generosity.
And once they managed to get themselves into the game, it was Brisbane that struck first, then second. Corey Oates was the beneficiary of a beautiful pass from Boyd to start the scoring, before Matt Gillett sliced through on the right edge.
Nikorima was having a tricky evening. With Souths starting to inhabit some decent real estate up the Caxton Street end of the ground, Adam Reynolds would float a high kick towards the 174cm playmaker.
Bryson Goodwin easily won the jump and it was 12-6 as both teams retired to the rooms. It was the Rabbitohs that returned full of running.
Angus Crichton has been a superb find for South Sydney and was turning in another unrelenting performance on his edge. It was his charge that stretched the Broncos on the right, with the former junior rugby star just inches short of the line.
Sam Burgess finished it on the left in the next play, thundering through the defenders, including a badly outmatched Nikorima, to level scores at 12-12.
Benji Marshall replaced Nikorima with 20 minutes to play but it was Milford that came up with the telling play. He held the ball up superbly 10m out from the line, before sending through a perfect kick for Jordan Kahu to pounce in the corner.
They backed up quickly. Sam Thaiday, another who needed a big performance before Origin II, ran off the hip of Adam Blair to dive over next to the posts. It was 22-12 with 15 minutes to play and given Souths' leaky defence this season, it looked enough.
Milford would leave with a badly injured shoulder and the Rabbitohs would be given late hope when the tireless Crichton crashed over to bring them within four with five minutes to play.
But another error - Souths' second bungled short kick-off of the night - would hand over the ball and leave them six short of the kind of win that may well have started to turn around their season.