LIKE many in rugby league circles, Darren Lockyer has heard the rumours that former Mackay junior Josh Hoffman is being groomed to succeed him as the man to wear the coveted Broncos No.6 jersey.
While effusive in his praise of the 23-year-old dynamo, Lockyer is cautious to throw his support behind the positional switch.
At this point in time at least.
He believes established young halves Corey Norman and Ben Hunt should be given first crack during the 2012 pre-season, but sees playmaking potential in Hoffman, who has made the No.1 jersey his own since the departure of Karmichael Hunt.
Hoffman played most of his junior football at five-eighth and has been a standout since his debut in 2008, winning the club's best-and-fairest award in 2010 and coming under consideration for a New Zealand representative cap late last year before being struck down with a knee injury.
Any switch will ultimately depend on whether coach Anthony Griffin takes a punt on him during the upcoming trials, but who is more qualified to comment on a mid-career switch from fullback to five-eighth than Lockyer - having famously made the move in 2004?
Just as Lockyer was better suited to fullback in his younger days, he said if Hoffman was to assume the halves spot it wouldl most likely happen later in his career.
"I've heard that (Hoffman moving to five-eighth) tossed up a few times - it's an interesting one," Lockyer told the Sunshine Coast Daily this week.
"He's a great fullback and a great returner of the football. At the moment the other two (Norman and Hunt) offer a bit more with their ball-playing skills.
"It'd be almost a tragedy to take Josh away from fullback.
"He had a bit of a rough run with injuries last year, but when he was playing he was fantastic."
Lockyer said it was also important not to tamper with the make-up of the side, which finished third last year and got to within one game of the grand final.
"I guess it was similar for me when I was at fullback - when you're at the peak of your powers in terms of your speed and strength, you think fullback is probably better suited to 2someone1 like Josh," he said.
"As he gets older with a bit more experience, five-eighth could be good for Josh."
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