Holmes dines out on 'Special K' highlight reels
He is known for his speed and flair but Queensland left winger Valentine Holmes has revealed his quest to emulate the tough carries of former Maroons star Karmichael Hunt was the making of him as a complete outside back.
Hunt, or 'Special K' as he was known, played 10 games for Queensland and was a key factor in the Maroons early success in the dynasty that began in 2006. When Holmes was a youngster he would watch the dual international’s kamikaze running style from fullback for Brisbane and the Maroons in awe.
Holmes, who scored four tries in his two matches on the wing last year, said flair had "always been in my back pocket" but was certain another factor would be more telling in the Holden State of Origin series opener at the MCG on Wednesday night.
"Karmichael Hunt was playing out of his skin at a young age and I loved watching the way he would run back from fullback and take the line on. He’d run straight over the top of people and put his body on the line," Holmes told NRL.com.
"So I modelled my game on his when I first came in on the wing, just trying to take the ball back as hard as I can and help the forwards out.
"In Origin in particular they get a big high out of the back five when we take the tough carries, and that is what Karmichael did each time he played for the Broncs, Queensland and Australia."
It is a style of play that Holmes said also proved a winner for the Sharks in the 2016 premiership season.
"Bringing the ball back 100 miles an hour is what myself, [Sosaia] Feki, Ricky [Leutele] and Birdy [Jack Bird] prided ourselves on…and Benny Barba just did his thing,” he said.
Holmes will play outside Greg Inglis for the first time at State of Origin level after doing so just once when he debuted for Australia in Perth in 2016. The 22-year-old said he would be ready to make the most of the opportunities that would undoubtedly come his way.
"I know GI create something out of nothing so I will definitely be keeping my wits about me," he said.
"I’ll let him do his thing first and then support him wherever I can because I know he will get offload away for me and maybe even a kick.
"He has skills and power and I’ll be hoping he can flip me a couple of tries."
Holmes said he was well aware of the stellar combination Broncos captain Darius Boyd had forged with Inglis over the past decade and said he would aim to uphold that legacy.
There were some doubt in Holmes own mind whether he would even get selected with the Maroons being blessed with an abundance of quality candidates on the wing.
"It was a very popular spot the left wing so it was definitely playing on my mind throughout the year," he said.
"I thought for sure they would have gone with Darius Boyd or Corey Oates. Even Kyle Feldt. I know he plays on the right but he is a great finisher and Nene Macdonald has been playing some excellent football.
"Obviously I am very happy and honoured to get the call-up and I will try and replicate what Darius has done in the past. He had some good combinations with GI so there is a responsibility to get it right."
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here.