Holmes finds a home at the back

Cronulla outside back Valentine Holmes is hoping his fifth NRL game at fullback won't be his last, but insists he'll be happy with whatever his coach decides about a three-way fullback race moving forward.

The 21-year-old Townsville product has been touted as a future fullback during a three-year apprenticeship on the Cronulla wing behind first Michael Gordon then Ben Barba, but is now in the mix with Kiwi international Gerard Beale and fellow young-gun Jack Bird for the fulltime No.1 jersey moving forward.

Beale has been solid at fullback in his outings this year and spent time at the back in his Brisbane days, while utility star Bird – who was an early sensation at five-eighth before since dominating at centre and fullback while being touted as a future ball-playing lock forward – has never disappointed in his chances there.

Holmes – who ran for 158 metres and defused five kicks on Saturday in just his fifth NRL game as a starting fullback – is hopeful for more game time there this year but was mostly just relieved to have got through 80 minutes having barely played for six weeks due to a hamstring injury that delayed his start to the season.

 


"That's my main thing, I wanted to try and get 80 minutes under me," Holmes said after the 20-6 win over the Parramatta Eels.

"It was pretty hard out there, I've been out for six weeks and last week I played wing and a bit of fullback so to get the full game under me I was pretty happy with it and I was pretty happy with how I went. 

He said he thought he went "pretty well" but also praised the efforts of Beale and Bird so far this year.

"I think they both did really well there and that just goes to show if there's an injury there's always someone that can fill in and do the job really well so it's up to Flanno. It's good that we're all capable of playing there and it's up to him," Holmes said.

"I'd love to keep playing there, that's my favourite position and I thought we did pretty well. I just try and get more involved and help the forwards out."

The Sharks host the Newcastle Knights next Saturday afternoon in a game that could give Holmes a better chance to showcase his attacking skills if retained at the back next week.