Holmes studies Slater at fullback
Valentine Holmes has been “studying” the art of fullback from Billy Slater in the hope of one day becoming his successor.
The 22-year-old scored a record-breaking five tries for the Kangaroos in their quarter-final victory over Samoa in Darwin on Friday night.
It once again raised questions over where he best belongs on a football field, inflicting all of his damage on the wing for the Kangaroos in breaking a century long record.
While his focus has been predominantly on being Australia’s best winger during this year’s World Cup, Holmes admits he has been working closely with Slater with one eye to the future.
“I’ve been studying with him,” Holmes said.
“I played last week at fullback and he helped me out a lot. I’m trying to pick pieces out of what he does very well.
“The main thing I’ve got off him is he is very loud at training. He is very vocal. They demand where to go so they know where to be.”
Holmes broke through into the representative arena on the back of a superb season on the wing for Cronulla in their 2016 premiership-winning season.
However he struggled to make the same impact this season after making the transition to fullback following the sudden departure of Ben Barba.
With Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan arriving at the Sharks next season, there is a question mark over where Holmes will play in 2018.
But he maintains his desire to wear the No.1 jersey in the future, at both club and representative level.
"I think in rep footy I'm a good winger but I'd like to play fullback,” Holmes said.
“I enjoy more playing fullback. It's not always about scoring tries. I'd like to set up tries. I get a bit excited about scoring tries but obviously in a team like this you've got to wait your turn.
“We've got a great fullback (Slater) at the moment and he'll be playing for another few years. I’m very happy to be playing on the wing. He has a couple more [years left].
"You have Darius Boyd there. He would’ve been next and he is not as old as Billy. If it came I would take it with two hands but I still have to work hard this year.”
Holmes wasn’t aware that he’d broken an Australian record for most tries in a Test match until after the game.
“It means a lot. It’s very humbling to be out there,” he said.
“A lot of great players in the past who have played in this jersey. To hold something like that is awesome.”