Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt have a "point to prove" for Brisbane City in the NRC, according to coach Mick Heenan.
The banished Reds stars have played no professional football in 2018 after Cooper was told he is no longer part of Queensland's plans in preseason and Hunt was told likewise after another off field scandal late last year.
They teamed up for Souths in the back half of the Queensland Premier Rugby season and while their finals campaign ended prematurely, Heenan believes the fire within is still burning.
"They're both really motivated," he said.
"They both have a point to prove and they will want to be able to show that they can play at the next level.
"They've both had reasonable seasons for Souths and I'm just looking forward to getting into the NRC season."Heenan had the pair at his disposal in his first season as City coach but with Cooper leading the Barbarians and Hunt called up to Wallabies duties their appearances were sporadic.
There will be no such disruptions this time around and that has City poised to flourish.
"That'll be an advantage, to have them with us the whole time," Heenan said.
"Obviously it's good to have Wallabies in your side but it's also good to have continuity.
"It's a seven game season so you don't have time to really re-school blokes from week to week.
"You need that continuity to be successful so it'll be good to get that."
The season also presents a fresh opportunity for Heenan, whose University of Queensland side fell short of back-to-back Queensland Premier Rugby titles in a thrilling final against GPS.
This time around he has kept a close eye on the talent across each of the Queensland clubs and has handpicked a squad capable of taking City back to the top of the NRC table.
"I feel like I’m better prepared," he said.
"At the start of last year coaching NRC wasn’t even on my radar so I wasn’t watching games through the lens of who might be suitable for NRC.
"Because I knew from early on this year that I’d probably be coaching City again I’ve been able to assess players in a different light which has been useful."
Brisbane City kick off their NRC campaign at Hugh Courtney Oval on Sunday, kicking off at 3pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS at 3pm AEST.