Isaac John appears to be on the outer at Penrith, while the signing of Brisbane halfback Peter Wallace could also hasten the Panthers departure of oft-injured star Lachlan Coote.
The Panthers on Saturday announced Wallace would return to his junior club on a three-year deal from 2014, completing a recruitment drive which also netted the club former St George Illawarra five-eighth Jamie Soward and Warriors forward Elijah Taylor.
With starting half Luke Walsh heading to St Helens in 2014, former Panthers international Ryan Girdler endorsed the Soward-Wallace halves pairing at the foot of the mountains next season.
It leaves John – who has been impressive since being called up to the top grade mid-season and who was re-signed in June – in limbo.
But the knock-on effect is at fullback, given it was widely assumed either Coote or Matt Moylan would battle with John to wear the No.6 jumper with the other to remain at fullback.
Coote has been linked with a move to North Queensland next season, the Cowboys looking for a replacement for Matthew Bowen at fullback.
Girdler, speaking on Triple M, said the veteran presence of Wallace and Soward would add stability to the Panthers attack.
“Peter Wallace is a very steady player at halfback,” Girdler said.
“We’ve spoken about it all year, you need to have contrasting halves.
“You need to have one guy who can control the game (and) another guy who is going to look for opportunities.
“And I think that’s what they’ll do next year.
“If Wal comes back he’s obviously going to control the game. He’s got a good kicking game and that’s going to allow Jamie Soward a little bit more space, take a little bit of pressure off him.
“(It will) allow him, as long as he does it, to run and take advantage of the big pack and the go forward they have.”