The Canberra Raiders will restart their NRL campaign with a handful of empty roster slots which could be used to lure players to a premiership contender bracing for a hectic travel toll.
Canberra have lost emerging forward Jack Murchie a week out from the NRL's restart as he hunts greater opportunities with an embattled rival, while JJ Collins has shifted to Queensland for a fresh start.
Murchie has joined the New Zealand Warriors in Terrigal and trained with the squad on Thursday having broke the news of his departure to Raiders coach Ricky Stuart earlier this week.
He links up with the Warriors on a one-year deal before the NRL season resumes as they look to plug a gap left in their forward pack by a raft of injury concerns.
It leaves the Raiders with openings in their top squad which could come in handy as Stuart looks to manage his side through a heavy travel load in the coming months.
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"We're down to 27 or 28, so if the right player came along then of course I would look at that player. I'm really happy with the group I've got," Stuart said.
"It's a really good opportunity for Jack. At this stage of his career he has to be playing first grade, and he has got that opportunity to be playing first grade at the Warriors.
"He goes with our blessing and I hope it works out well for him."
New Zealand will resume their campaign against the St George Illawarra Dragons on May 30 at Central Coast Stadium - the same day Canberra's season restarts in Melbourne.
"It's all been a bit of a whirlwind," Murchie said.
"It's been awesome, they're a really great bunch of blokes and it's a really great club. I saw it as an opportunity to play more first grade and I just thought it would be a bit of a new adventure for me.
"It was [tough to leave Canberra]. I've been there for a long time and I have a lot of really close mates there. It was disappointing but I think I have made the right decision coming up here. Everyone has been really welcoming.
"[Stuart] was very understanding. He said I needed to be taking the best opportunity I can if it meant playing first grade, and this is that.
"I'm really keen to get out there and rip in with the Warriors if I get picked in the team. My goal is to be playing first grade so I'm really excited."
The 22-year-old has played three NRL games for Canberra but was linked to the Warriors in March having struggled to crack the top grade in the capital, while Collins leaves after one game in lime green.
"Jack joins us with an opportunity and expectation to play NRL," Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said.
"He comes highly recommended and we look forward to giving us some depth leading into our return to the competition next week."
Playing opportunities could be scarce for players outside the Green Machine's match day squad this season after the NSW Cup was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner is exploring a range of options including trials against rival Sydney clubs or the Melbourne Storm to give fringe players game time.
"We have a plan from a training point of view, making sure they're prepared to play when they get their chance. We have spoken about it as staff so they'll be fine," Stuart said.