Tyro to wait in wings
HE may have to bide his time for a while yet but Valentine Holmes is hoping a fullback crash course from Billy Slater will help him snare the Maroons No. 1 jersey his childhood idol owns.
Townsville product Holmes has enjoyed a fairytale start to his Origin career, scoring four tries in two games after he was overlooked for the seriesopening loss.
The 21- year- old has made the transition from wing to fullback at Cronulla this year and regularly studies video of Slater as part of the learning process.
Despite the bitter Melbourne- Cronulla rivalry stemming from last year’s grand final, Slater has made a point of taking Holmes under his wing during Origin camp.
“Both Val and Dane ( Gagai), I hope they’ve learned a bit off me the last six weeks,” Slater said.
“They're great kids and exceptional players and they just want to learn and get better.
“The thing I love about Val is he’s so dangerous and such a sharp ball runner, he’s only going to get better the more fullback he plays for his club.”
Holmes broke the Origin decider wide open with a hattrick including a magical try in the second half where he had to regather the ball at full speed and evade two defenders.
“He has that knack of scoring a try, the way he had to fin- ish off a few was unbelievable,” Slater said.
“I don’t think you can teach that stuff. You’ve either got it or you don’t, and he’s certainly got it.”
Slater is yet to decide whether he will play on next year but if he doesn’t, Darius Boyd is likely to regain the fullback spot for a few years yet.
It means Holmes may have to be content on the wing for some time, but he’s adopting the philosophy good things come to those who wait.
“It would be awesome to play fullback in rep footy,” he said.
“It’s something I definitely want to do and I’ve learned a lot from Billy in these camps, hopefully I can put that into my game.
“He’s someone I’ve always wanted to play alongside, and he’s taught me how tough it ( Origin) is and having that never- say- die attitude.”
Origin III was the first time Holmes had played at Suncorp Stadium since representing the Queensland under- 18 sideand his try- scoring heroics sent the record 52,400 crowd into a frenzy.