‘I was just going to bail’
How Barba stopped Val Holmes from running away like Sonny Bill
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.