Holmes emerges from wings to take centre stage
MAROONS speed machine Valentine Holmes says his Origin hat- trick is the ultimate reward for the dark times when he feared he would never make it to the NRL.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters declared Holmes has a long- term future on the left wing after his remarkable treble helped inspire Queensland’s 22- 6 victory in the Origin decider.
In the process, Holmes entered an elite club. He became just the fifth Queenslander in Origin’s 37- year history to score three tries in a game, joining Kerry Boustead ( 1984), Lote Tuqiri ( 2002), Matt Sing ( 2003) and Dane Gagai ( 2016).
But for all his finishing class, Holmes’s journey to State of Origin has been turbulent.
Just five years ago, he felt washed up at age 17 in hometown Townsville. He dreamt of playing NRL for the Cowboys, but local scouts showed little interest.
Now he is a matchwinner who possesses the youth and brilliance to threaten Greg Inglis’ Origin tryscoring record of 18 from 30 games.
“I still can’t believe I have scored a hat- trick in State of Origin,” said Holmes, who has four tries from his first two games.
“To be able to score in this arena so many times already is awesome.
“It’s just a dream to play at this level. I’m on the wing, so that’s what good wingers have to do. But I couldn’t have done it without the guys inside me.”
Holmes, 21, has now played Test and Origin football and won a premiership, but it took a move to Sydney as a teenager to save his career.
“I don’t think the Cowboys ever looked at me. I never made any rep sides in North Queensland, so to be honest, I didn’t think I would ever make the NRL,” Holmes said.
“They have a lot of good talent up there and I just remember my manager saying the Sharks are keen to get me.
Walters lauded Holmes’s finishing prowess after his spectacular aerial dive to score his first try. He then produced a superb juggle on the run to post his treble.
“It was pretty freakish what he came up with,” Walters said.
“It was like he was playing beach football, he caught the ball ( for his hattrick) and somehow got it done.
“That’s the sort of player that he is. He has a long future here. If he keeps producing, he will be parking himself in this team for a few years yet.”