Holmes bringing extra bite to Sharks attack
Broncos fullback Darius Boyd will have one eye on James Maloney and the other on Valentine Holmes as he seeks to marshal a defensive line against Cronulla that didn't break once in last week's record win over the Titans.
While Sharks five-eighth Maloney will dictate much of Cronulla's attack in their clash with Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night Boyd has also been carefully monitoring the development of Holmes into one of the NRL's most dangerous attacking fullbacks.
Kangaroos team-mates in last year's Four Nations tour of England and Queensland centre and wing partners in the second game of this year's Origin series, Boyd and Holmes will face off on Friday night as their respective teams seek to secure their place in the top four for at least another week.
As the competition marvelled at Holmes' development in Cronulla's premiership-winning season last year in which he scored 19 tries, Boyd wondered when they gathered together in the green and gold just what kind of 21-year-old he would be playing alongside.
Holmes was one of eight players barred from representing Queensland in 2016 after breaking curfew at a pre-season camp but more than his many on-field attributes it was his demeanour off the field that most impressed the Broncos captain.
"Sometimes young kids coming in can be excused for being a bit sure of themselves, especially with all the things he'd done like winning a comp," Boyd told NRL.com.
"But he is very level-headed kind of bloke and seemed four or five years older than his actual age.
"I was pretty impressed to be honest. He wanted to learn, he wanted to be better, he was asking questions and for a guy that's just got picked for Australia and won a comp…
"Sometimes you think you've already made it and you don't need that so I was really impressed with him actually.
"I just liked that he was very composed. You can tell nothing fazes him whether he's playing Origin or playing for Australia or playing in a grand final.
"For a young kid he just seemed ready to accept the next challenge and I was really impressed."
 Telstra Premiership: Darius Boyd vs Valentine Holmes
All Run Metres, Try Assists, Line Break Assists, Line Breaks.
Prior to the 2017 season Holmes had played only four of his NRL games at fullback and while his representative jerseys have come on the wing he has established himself as the Sharks' No.1 option at the back.
In addition to his elusive running game Boyd has noticed a significant improvement in Holmes's passing, making him a double threat against the Broncos on Friday night.
"Val's only gotten better and better as the year has gone on, especially playing fullback," said Boyd, who plays his 132nd game for the Broncos this week.
"He's definitely developed that pass in his game so he's got that running ability which he's very strong at and with his passing now too so he's definitely a danger for us."
A self-confessed footy nerd, Boyd sent time on Thursday with the rest of the Broncos spine reviewing tape of the Sharks and the attacking shapes that they like to throw at teams.
Where Maloney will be on the field at any given time is still the primary indicator for Boyd's organisation of the Brisbane defensive line but he is also wary of keeping tabs on where Holmes might bob up in attack.
"If Jimmy Maloney's back he'll be a big key," said Boyd.
"I haven't seen them play a lot lately so we'll have to do a bit of video and see what their shapes are but from memory they play like to play a lot of seven, six, one stuff together which means we'll have to shore up our defensive line on that side.
"Every team has that key kind of guy but then again there are ways that teams structure their plays where they always play the fullback's side. That gives you a bit of a gauge as to where you need to put an extra man or I might have to fill in the line for a set.
"As a spine we get together and have a bit of a look at things and that's probably where I'll pick up a few things that I think we can focus on in the game."