Penrith coach Anthony Griffin is set to unveil the first big call of his tenure when he names his captain for the new NRL season on Wednesday.
Current skipper and halfback Peter Wallace, marquee signing Trent Merrin and Kiwi representative second-rower Elijah Taylor are all in the frame to lead the Panthers in 2016.
Boom youngsters – and local boys – Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright are the smokies.
Three months after being ushered in to take over from the “tired” Ivan Cleary, the former Brisbane mentor is poised to introduce a new skipper.
Wallace, who was dumped by then Broncos coach Griffin at Red Hill in 2013, has been dogged by two knee reconstructions upon his return home at Penrith but is a chance of retaining the job.
The off-contract 30-year-old was rumoured to be on the outer at the club over the summer, reports that general manager Phil Gould quickly slammed.
The former NSW Origin halfback is instead a probable starter in the No.7 jumper under Griffin.
Taylor, who deputised as captain during Penrith’s injury-affected campaign last year, is also off-contract at season’s end, while Merrin, Cartwright, and Moylan all have multi-year deals.
In his three years at the Broncos, Griffin elected to go with Sam Thaiday as sole captain in the post-Darren Lockyer era, before appointing Corey Parker and Justin Hodges together in 2013.
Wallace remains on track to return from his latest knee surgery, although he hasn’t been named in either of Penrith’s squads for next week’s Auckland Nines or their trial in Papua New Guinea.
The Panthers have two more trials, against Canterbury and then Parramatta, before opening their season against Canberra on March 5.