Valentine Holmes barely knew a Cowboys player when he signed a six-year deal with his hometown club in November, but the star fullback is loving life back in Townsville.
Holmes played rep football with Michael Morgan and schoolboy rugby league with Coen Hess, however arrived at the Cowboys as the new kid on the block after signing with Cronulla as a teenager.
He sat out the 2019 Telstra Premiership after chasing an NFL dream in the United States before settling on his home city for a return to rugby league.
After blasting off the cobwebs in the trial win over the Broncos in Cairns, he can't wait for the buzz when the two arch-rivals christen the Cowboys' new stadium in round one.
"It was an honour to wear the Cowboys jersey and the No. 1," Holmes said.
"A lot of great people have worn that jersey in the past.
Holmes stronger from stint in the NFL
"[Round one] is going to be a great game and a fairly big crowd, I’d imagine.
"Pulling on the Cowboys jersey and running outside with these guys, it will definitely be mixed emotions."
Holmes said the established players at the club had made him feel welcome.
"All the boys are easy-going, nice and welcoming. It’s been great," he said.
"It’s a young kind of team, there’s only a few older boys.
"I’ve played against a few of them and played with a couple at rep level or at school. I played with Hessy at school."
Morgan said his Queensland and Kangaroos teammate has slotted in perfectly at the Cowboys.
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"It is an exciting time at the club," the skipper said.
"Val is a special player who brings a few things that we may not have had in the last couple of years."
Holmes played just 30 minutes in the Cairns trial but hopes to play the full 80 this Saturday against the Storm in Melbourne.
“We’re definitely going to treat it as a proper game, this will be our last test before we start playing week in, week out,” he said.
As for the year ahead, the 24-year-old is confident of making a solid contribution to a Cowboys resurgence and he'll enter the season in a great head space as he laps up his homecoming.
“I’m going to mum and dad’s and seeing them more often than I was when I was down in Sydney. I’d just come back on bye weeks or at the end of the season," he said.
“I really enjoy and soak it up that I’m back home.
“Everyone always says as long as your lifestyle at home’s good you should be able to perform well at work."