Tyro to wait in wings

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH jonathon. tuxworth@ news. com. au

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.

Valen­tine Holmes.

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