Townsville Bulletin

Holmes hungry for stable Cowboys role

- NICK WRIGHT

VALENTINE Holmes has refused to rule out a long-term career in the centres, but called for a clear direction in where his future lies.

The Cowboys’ marquee man returned to Townsville from the NFL in 2020 with the intent to don the number one jumper.

However the emergence of Hamiso Tabuai-fidow at fullback has ignited an intriguing off season battle between the pair, after the teenage wunderkind unseated Holmes in the later stages of the competitio­n.

Holmes began the campaign on the wing, but he regained the custodian role he coveted for much the year, before finishing in the centres.

While he said he was open to the three-quarter line being a permanent move, he needed to remain there.

Much like an employee in other industries who have new responsibi­lities thrust upon them, Holmes said if he was to become a leading NRL centre he needed time to thrive.

Chopping and changing would only lead to a similar year to what the Cowboys just endured.

“I enjoyed playing centre, I used to play there when I was younger through high school and in the under-20s (but) I need to get a preseason under me there,” Holmes said.

“We need to have guys in positions for more than a couple of weeks. We’re bringing guys in due to injury and form, we’re changing guys a lot. Being told where you’re going to play in itself affects your mindset, you can control where you’re playing and how you’re training.

“If there’s a lot of shuffling around it can be hard to adapt. If we’re sticking to one position it’s a lot better to work on your game and better your game.”

Holmes returned to Townsville as the club’s silver bullet, the man to rediscover the side’s spark in attack.

Prior to his high profile

move from Cronulla to New York, the 26-year-old scored 22 tries and made 26 line breaks for the Sharks, spearheadi­ng them to the top four.

Much to the frustratio­n of Cowboys fans, he is yet to get back to those lofty heights.

Holmes has been far from poor with the Steeden in hand from his two North Queensland campaigns.

He has still showcased his threat level when running the ball in peak form, and he has still proven to be cool and calm under pressure; think his clutch field goals to clinch victories over Brisbane and New Zealand as examples of

the match-winning potential within him.

However, when the Cowboys have struggled, so too has Holmes.

Defensivel­y, the Maroons flyer has made the most errors in the 2021 competitio­n (34), while off the ball his defence has come with a tackle efficiency of just 62.6 per cent.

It is not an issue purely directed at Holmes, rather a team wide concern where overlaps and attacking chance for their opponents are afforded too regularly.

As for pundits critical of his inability to reach the 2018 heights, Holmes said they

were unrealisti­c expectatio­ns within a team still rebuilding.

He said at the Sharks he had been playing alongside his teammates for a prolonged period — who knew their strengths, he understood their weaknesses.

Once the Cowboys rediscover that same continuity, that is when he believes the best of Holmes would return.

“When I was playing at the Sharks I had been in that system for a while,” Holmes said. “We’d been playing alongside each other for a while and we knew each other’s strengths.

“That’s probably one thing

we need to be better at at the Cowboys, we need to know what each other’s strengths are and play to that. Everyone thinks I can just get back that form from 2018, but it’s not like that. It’s a new team, different players, different attacking schemes – it’s all different, so you can’t just switch it on in another team.

“Back in 2018 you could slow the ruck down a bit and there was none of this six again. It’s brought that fatigue into the game, some teams can handle it, some can’t, and it’s one thing we haven’t really adapted to in the past couple of years.”

 ??  ?? Valentine Holmes has not ruled out a long term future in the centres. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/getty Images
Valentine Holmes has not ruled out a long term future in the centres. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/getty Images

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