DANE Hogan has been a conspicuous performer for Mackay in the Intrust Super Cup this season but Cutters coach Anthony Seibold believes the Bribie Island product needs to remain patient in his quest to reclaim a berth in the highly-vaunted North Queensland forward pack.
The 22-year-old, who played 10 successive games for the Cowboys in 2010, was struck down with injury (groin and collarbone) for most of 2011.
But now, he's returning to the sort of form which North Queensland selectors could find hard to ignore.
"He had some injuries last year but I think this year, with some consistent back-to-back footy, he's been a real standout during our first five games," Seibold said.
"He has plenty of enthusiasm and aggression and plays well above his weight."
The 185cm, 98kg front-rower/back-rower signalled his intentions in the second game of the season, impressing officials with a barnstorming effort against fellow North Queensland feeder club, the Northern Pride.
"He was the players' player when we played the Pride. He was a real standout that night and he's been very consistent in his performances since then," Seibold said.
But the Mackay mentor also suggested Hogan will need to bide his time as he tries to force his way back into a Cowboys pack which already boasts plenty of artillery.
"They've got a whole heap off depth there and Dane understands that," he said.
"So he needs to play consistent, good football for a long period of time.
"At the moment, outside of that Cowboys pack (which includes the likes of Dallas Johnson and Matthew Scott) the club has also got Jason Taumalolo playing in the under-20s and they've obviously got Scott Bolton and Cory Paterson with the Pride."
"There's quite a bit of competition there. He just needs to keep his head down and keep working hard and hopefully an opportunity will arise for him.
"You only have to look at Ricky Thorby, who spent the last year and a bit playing for the Pride but he got his chance in the last couple of weeks."
Meanwhile, Seibold said his team had been steeled by an "interesting" start to the season, which has included just two wins from five games.
"We've played some leading teams like Redcliffe and the Pride, although the Pride lost their last couple of matches, along with Tweed Heads, Burleigh and Norths - so we've had a challenging start. But the big thing for us is that our team line-up changes so much from week to week.
"It's just something we need to try and deal with," he said.
"It's really challenging because we don't have a FOGS Cups side or FOGS Colts side."