Valentine Holmes has given his strongest indication yet that he will eventually return home to Townsville but he looks set to stay with Cronulla next year before a potential switch to North Queensland in 2020 to be closer to his parents.
His club contract expires at the end of 2019 and Holmes was forthright on Thursday in Maroons camp about his plans when asked about Sharks coach Shane Flanagan’s comment to NRL.com that he would leave Cronulla a year early "over my dead body".
"I didn't think he was that keen on me. He obviously wants me to stay at the club," Holmes said.
"There is a lot of talk at the moment. I have a contract next year then an option for 2020.
"My family and Mum and Dad are up there [in Townsville] and they are getting old and … not working at the moment. It would be good to see them now and then, let them get to games more often. They don't really get to see my games. I would love to see them more."
Compounding the uncertainty for Holmes position-wise is the possibility Cronulla's 2016 premiership-winning fullback Ben Barba could return to the club next year.
"I am not sure how that is all going to work out. I think Benny may have another year there [in Super League], and Flanno won't release me. I will stick out this contract and see how I go,” he said.
Holmes wants to play fullback for Queensland next year but before taking up that challenge he must gel on the wing with his fourth centre pairing in just five games for the Maroons.
He will switch to the right wing to play outside Will Chambers in game three of the Holden State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium after previously lining up alongside Michael Morgan, Darius Boyd and Greg Inglis.
"Everyone knows I play right [edge] for Cronulla, so it won't be too much of a change,” Holmes said.
"Obviously I have to learn how to play outside Cherry-Evans and Chambers but we had our first training session today and we looked pretty good down our edge
"I have to build a combination with Chambers and let him do what he does. He's pretty good there, puts some kicks in when he can and he's got some flick passes. I have to be aware of what he can do."
With Billy Slater set to retire from representative football at the end of the series, Holmes will be in for an almighty battle to achieve his goal of being the new Maroons captain’s successor in the No.1 jersey.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network
"There are a few fullbacks who are playing really well at the moment.
"[Moses] Mbye has been playing well and Kalyn [Ponga] is playing awesome. It's going to be a big goal for next year.
"I definitely want to try and make it mine. If not I just want to be in this team somewhere."
Seeing how he goes against NSW speed demon Josh Addo-Carr is his most immediate concern and he said he would not be taking his eyes off the Storm winger on Wednesday night.
"We all know how fast Foxy is. I am going to be wary of my outside and try and show him the sideline as much as I can,” he said.
"I think they will keep attacking that side. Latrell [Mitchell] is pretty strong there. I feel like that was the more dominant side in the first two games [for NSW]. I don't see them changing their game plan.”