Valentine Holmes could return to the NRL for the 2019 season.
Valentine Holmes could return to the NRL for the 2019 season.

Cowboys prepared to pounce if Holmes misses NFL cut

North Queensland is prepared to pounce if Valentine Holmes suddenly becomes available and wants to rejoin the NRL later this season.

Cowboys football manager Peter Parr confirmed to foxsports.com.au the club has space under the salary cap and a spot on the roster to accommodate a possible Holmes coup this year.

"We've just got to be patient. It's a waiting game," Parr said.

Holmes is chasing his American football dream in the US since cutting his contract with Cronulla short and heading overseas six months ago.

The 23-year-old NRL premiership player underwent testing at the International Pathway Program pro-day this week, and is now waiting to find out if he has a potential future in the NFL.

Holmes can either be snatched up by an NFL franchise as a free agent, or be one of four athletes assigned to a practice squad through the international program.

But in an exclusive interview with foxsports.com.au on Wednesday, Holmes confirmed he will try to rejoin rugby league this season if he fails to earn a contract in the US.

"If it didn't work out here, I'd obviously come back because I need to make money somehow," Holmes said.

The sticking point is a stipulation Cronulla put to Holmes upon agreeing to release him. The Sharks have claimed exclusive rights to his services for 2019 if he was to return to rugby league.

But since his departure the Sharks have been hit with a $335,000 salary cap penalty, imposed by the NRL as punishment for historic breaches.

Cronulla has been unable to register a contract for fringe hooker James Segeyaro, and so it stands to reason Holmes' return could well be blocked by the NRL.

If that is the case, North Queensland looms as the next best option for the talented fullback-winger.

Parr confirmed the Cowboys have "a bit of money" available under the salary cap, and currently only have 29 of their 30 roster spots filled.

Under NRL law every club must have 30 contracted players registered by June 30.

If Holmes was to become available after June 30, Parr suggested a club could hypothetically cut a player from their roster in order to accommodate a fresh signing of an athlete coming from outside the sport.

Holmes would be a welcome addition to a North Queensland side currently lacking firepower in the backline.

Jordan Kahu was recruited to the club in the wake of Ben Barba's sacking, but Kahu has been moved from fullback and replaced by young playmaker Te Maire Martin in the role.

If Holmes was to arrive in Townsville he would immediately slot into the No.1 and add a new dimension to the team's attack.

If it doesn't eventuate, Parr says the club has contingency plans.

Without going into specifics, he said the Cowboys have the option of poaching a player from the open market to fill a role, or promoting a development listed player before June 30.