Valentine looking towards home
THE Cowboys have rocketed into the frame to secure Valentine Holmes, with the Maroons and Cronulla winger confirming he is weighing up a career move to Townsville.
North Queensland are targeting Holmes to reinvigorate their backline and the Maroons ace can increase his bargaining power with a match-winning performance in Origin II on Sunday night.
For Holmes, the return bout at ANZ Stadium represents a trip back to the Sydney venue where he made his Origin debut last year, scoring a try in the 18-16 win to level the series.
A big-money struggle for Holmes' signature is looming, with the Maroons flyer revealing he will not rule out a return to north Queensland, the region where he started his rugby league career.
Holmes is contracted to Cronulla until 2020 but the final year is an option in his favour, meaning he could choose to quit the Sharks as early as next year.
The Cowboys have held preliminary talks with his management and while Cronulla are confident of keeping him, the tryscoring sensation said a move north has appeal.
"I will definitely look at the Cowboys as an option," said Holmes, who played his junior football for the Western Lions in Townsville.
"North Queensland is my home and my family are still there.
"At the end of the day, I have a contract with Cronulla until 2020. I don't know how it will all work out, so I will focus on doing my job for the Sharks and Queensland and then I will weigh up my future."
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan insists Holmes is not disgruntled but a key factor could be whether the Cowboys are prepared to honour the winger's desire to be a long-term fullback.
While he has scored 19 tries in 14 games for Queensland and Australia as a winger, Holmes believes he can cut it as a No.1, but admits he is taking nothing for granted.
"Guarantees don't really count anymore in this game," he said.
"I can't rely on being promised a position by any club.
"I like fullback but everyone sees me as a winger, so I guess I have to just do my job and see where that leaves me with the Sharks."
The 87kg speedster has scored five tries in three Origin games, including the 85m intercept that briefly inspired the Maroons on his way to 198m in their 22-12 loss in Origin I.
Holmes says he would gladly sacrifice personal accolades for a team victory to square the series, as he prepares to mark NSW sensation Tom Trbojevic on Sunday.
"It wasn't the result we wanted,'' he said. ''Hopefully we can do a better job in Game Two and come back to Brisbane for a decider. The NSW backline were great and it was what I expected. Their wingers were really involved.
"Trbojevic was running in the middle like a fullback and he is very tough to mark. He is big, skilful and fast and he scored a good try over me (outjumping Holmes for a bomb), so I have to be on my game."