Origin ban changed Holmes' Kangaroos focus
When Valentine Holmes was banned from being picked in Queensland's 2016 State of Origin team at the beginning of the year, he put his representative dreams on hold.
Holmes was fined for public nuisance and obstructing police in Brisbane on a night when he also broke curfew during a Maroons Emerging Origin Squad camp.
The Sharks winger was one of eight players banned by Queensland Rugby League and as a result, Holmes was also excluded from playing at the Auckland Nines.
Eight months later and after winning an NRL Telstra Premiership win with the Sharks, Holmes will likely make his representative debut for Australia at the upcoming Four Nations after being picked in coach Mal Meninga's 24-man squad.
"I thought I'd done my dash representative-wise this season," Holmes told NRL.com.
"I focused in on club footy then and playing well for the Sharks. I didn't want to dwell on it. I only worried about what was to come and this season it was playing for the Sharks each week.
"Though I've definitely been lucky with how it's panned out," he conceded.
"It's everyone's dream to play for their country and to be able to hopefully do that off the back of this year – an unreal year at that – I'm trying to soak it all up at the moment.
"I'm getting goosebumps knowing I'll be around so many good players for the next six weeks."
The 21-year-old could've easily been carried away by Cronulla's first ever grand final win but said his selection in the Kangaroos squad will help keep him grounded.
While a premiership in just his third NRL season will remain something special, Holmes has other boxes to tick.
"It's only hitting me now. I've come crashing back to earth," he said.
"To be able to win the Sharks' first premiership, it's something special to all of us. That was our goal at the start of the year. We knew we had the team that could do it.
"Heaps of goals remain though. Everyone has individual goals for themselves including representative honours. I can't believe I might be given the chance to pull on the Australian jersey."
Holmes had planned on kicking back with family and friends at home in Townsville this off-season given he's travelled a lot recently.
Instead he'll tick the United Kingdom off the bucket list.
"Being able to play rugby league for a living, you get to travel around a lot if you get lucky," he said.
"I get to do it again next year for the World Club Challenge. It's going to be an awesome few months.
"I'll need to get on top of getting the frequent flyer points sorted before I go."