With less depth, the Canberra Raiders have lost the motivator of pressure for spots this season, but they're hoping they've started to rectify that with a couple of signings before the June 30 deadline.
They signed Penrith Panthers outside back Michael Oldfield until the end of 2018, while Roosters forward Liam Knight has inked a deal until the end of 2019.
Paul Vaughan, Sam Williams, Shaun Fensom, Edrick and Brenko Lee, Zac Santo and Jordan Turner have all left the Green Machine since last season, meaning there's not the same pressure for places like there was in 2016.
With Nick Cotric having established himself in the 13 since his debut in round one, only Dave Taylor has provided any real pressure from below this campaign, but he's been hindered by injury and illness.
Raiders recruitment boss Peter Mulholland was hoping both Oldfield and Knight would further bolster their depth and create more pressure for spots.
"You're always mindful of that [losing depth]. We've moved quite a few players as you know," he said.
"One's an experienced player, one's an up-and-comer. It gives a bit of balance there.
"Our middle's not too bad, we've got an experienced middle and we just needed a couple of good up-and-comers. Bill Cullen and Liam Knight will certainly add to that."
Oldfield has played 30 NRL games for the Panthers, South Sydney, the Sydney Roosters and Manly, as well as 45 games for Super League club Catalans, where he scored 29 tries in two seasons.
The 26-year-old scored a try in his only game for the Panthers, mostly playing for them in the NSW Cup this season.
Knight has played just the one NRL game - for Manly last year - before switching to the Roosters.
The 22-year-old was part of the Sea Eagles' 2015 under-20s team that made the grand final and included gun fullback Tom Trbojevic.
Mulholland saw him as a "genuine" prop that could start to put pressure on big boppers Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd.
He was hopeful Knight and Oldfield could play for NSW Cup affiliate Mounties this weekend, otherwise they would come into the selection mix for next weekend.
"The Roosters thought enough of [Knight] to take him on. He's probably a bit of a victim of the salary cap there at the Roosters," Mulholland said.
"He was probably one of the best young players in the [under-20s] and he's ... a big lad and got a couple of years of development in him and hopefully he's going to put some pressure."
NRL ROUND 17
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.
Raiders squad: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Sia Soliola. Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Luke Bateman 16. Dave Taylor 17. Joe Tapine. Reserves: 18. Scott Sorensen 19. Royce Hunt 20. Adam Clydsdale 21. Clay Priest.
Cowboys squad: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O'Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Michael Morgan 8. John Asiata 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Ben Hampton 15. Coen Hess 16. Shaun Fensom 17. Corey Jensen. Reserves: 18. Kyle Laybutt 19. Kalyn Ponga 20. Braden Uele 21. Patrick Mago.