‘I was just go­ing to bail’

How Barba stopped Val Holmes from run­ning away like Sonny Bill

Rugby League Week - - The Mole - BY TOM SMITH

GUN CRONULLA WINGER VALEN­TINE

Holmes says a heart-to-heart with Ben Barba was the only thing that stopped him from do­ing a Sonny Bill and walk­ing out on the Sharks three years ago.

The Townsville prod­uct joined Cronulla in 2013, aged 17, and bat­tled home­sick­ness un­til his man­ager Gavin Orr set up a meet­ing with fel­low client Ben Barba, who suf­fered the same is­sues when he moved from Mackay to Can­ter­bury at the same age.

Asked how many times he asked for a re­lease to go home, Holmes ( be­low, with

Barba) replies: “I didn’t re­ally ask for one, I was just go­ing to go — I’d al­ready packed my bags and had them at the front door. It was pretty much Ben Barba that turned it around. My man­ager called me to din­ner with Ben when he was at the Bull­dogs at the time. He told me the same story he went through — he moved down from Mackay and he told me to stick it out and it would all work out.

“It’s prob­a­bly the best thing that ever hap­pened to me, mak­ing the de­ci­sion to stay.”

Holmes’ thrust­ing car­ries were a key pil­lar of the Sharks’ grand fi­nal win — only props Matt Prior (191m) and An­drew Fi­fita (190m) topped his 159m from the back — but he wouldn’t have a pre­mier­ship ring on his fin­ger if it wasn’t for brother Edric and sis­ter-in-law Krysia, who moved to Syd­ney three years ago to help Val feel more at home.

“They moved down and I ended up mov­ing in with them. I owe them so much, too,” says the 21-year-old.

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