He was the prodigal son who was earmarked for stardom with the Cowboys.
But Valentine Holmes never pulled on a North Queensland jumper, opting to sign with Cronulla where he starred for five years with 66 tries in 105 games.
There was the odd snicker when he turned his back on the NRL and followed in Jarryd Hayne's footsteps by trying his luck in the NFL.
But the 23-year-old might have the last laugh after he was signed by the New York Jets on Tuesday.
Cowboys captain Michael Morgan said it was a shame Holmes never wore Cowboys colours but was delighted for his former Queensland Origin teammate.
“It would’ve been nice to one day see him play here. But I knew that his intentions were to go there and try and do well so I supported him through that," Morgan said.
"I've only spoken by text. I know that he was happy with how it all went over there.
“He's doing alright for a young kid from Rasmussen. I'm very happy for him, it's a huge move and a massive moment in his career and his life to take off and move over there."
Holmes' former Cronulla teammate Jayden Brailey is one person who wasn't surprised Holmes impressed NFL coaches.
"I never imagined him coming back to be honest. I expected him to go as well as he has and always thought he could do it," Brailey said.
"I caught up with him yesterday and am really happy with what he's achieved already. It's exciting for him and us as a club to see how well he's progressing.
"I said to him yesterday hopefully he can get us some sideline passes if he gets a game next season. We'll definitely get some green and white jerseys."
Brailey believes the arrival of Shaun Johnson at the Sharks tempered the loss of Holmes.
"We replaced him with a guy like Shaun Johnson. Val got what he wanted and we got a good deal as well," he said.
"Val was our X-factor last year and Shaun is this year. He's really fitted in so much, it's been a win-win situation."
The Cowboys have lost three straight after starting their 2019 campaign with a solid home win over the Dragons.
They have the daunting prospect of taking on a red-hot Melbourne on Friday night in Townsville and Morgan believes his team needs to adopt a different approach given their recent performances haven't been good enough.
"The more you lose, pressure builds," he said.
"They [Melbourne] haven't lost yet this year and they've started another season very well. They'll be expected to win.
“We'll have our own internal expectations to what we want to do and things we want to change and be better at.”
While the first-round win is a distant memory, Morgan insists the Cowboys' on-field issues are easy to solve.
“They're pretty simple things but unfortunately not as simple as it sounds," he said.
"Sometimes it just doesn't click for us. We're the only ones who can turn that around."
Storm Five-Eighth Cameron Munster has been playing out of his skin and with State of Origin on the horizon, he’s set the bar high to claim a spot in the halves for Queensland, also a personal goal of Morgan’s.
“I want to get back to playing Origin," he said.
"I missed the second two games last year because of injury and I played the first game at fullback, which is not really my preferred position. I enjoyed the game and I thought I went all right there. But I'd love to play in the halves for Queensland.
“He's [Munster] obviously got a very good relationship with Cameron Smith, so he knows the right times to get him the ball and what he wants to do with it.
“Everyone does their job really well and his role’s probably grown a bit more the last couple of years, losing Cooper [Cronk] and Billy [Slater]."
Cowboys coach Paul Green has made just one change to the team beaten 30-12 at home by Canberra, including centre Enari Tuala.
"He's been knocking on the door for a while," Green said.
"He had a few things to work on which we asked him to do and he's got those boxes ticked, so he gets his chance.”
Although disappointed with the team’s performance, particularly in the last few weeks, Green is keeping the faith.
"It's always a balance between showing faith and not having the players feel that pressure that if they make a mistake they're not going to be in the team," he said.
"By the same token you've got to want to keep your spot and I think there's a few guys that need to probably improve in that area."
Ben Hampton gets a run on the wing, with Javid Bowen dropped.
Former Rooster and PNG International Kurt Baptiste was named on an extended bench.