North Queensland star Valentine Homes says it took a village to make him the centre of attention in the Cowboys’ 38-12 demolition of Brisbane in the Queensland Derby at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
In the infancy of his time as an NRL centre, Holmes scored a try, kicked seven goals from seven attempts, ran for 180 metres and made seven tackle breaks and two line breaks to claim a comprehensive victory in his personal match-up with Brisbane’s Kotoni Staggs.
The move from fullback and wing to centre has been widely questioned but North Queensland’s decision to shift Holmes to an edge paid dividends in the furnace of a derby.
“I’ve gotten a lot of confidence from my coaches and from the boys. I’ve pretty much done the whole pre-season at centre. I’ve had a lot of training and made a lot of mistakes but I’ve learned from them and it was good to show it out on the field,’’ Holmes said.
“We’re all professional athletes and we’ve got to adjust to what is best for the team and that is playing centre and I’m really enjoying it at the moment.
“It goes to how hard we’ve worked this off-season. I’ve done a lot of work with Dean Young and Steven Georgallis (Cowboys assistants) on my running game and defensively.
“It’s a tough position defensively and I’ve also got a great winger in Murray (Taulagi) outside me who covers my backside when I make a mistake and I’ve got Tommy Dearden and Tommy Gilbert covering me on the inside.
“I might look like I’m doing all the good things but I’ve got a really good edge around me.’’
Holmes with a super finish
Holmes could only marvel at the feats of 19-year-old back-rower Jeremiah Nanai who finished the match with a hat-trick of tries.
Holmes not only wants to see the off-contract Nanai remain in the blue-and-gold of the Cowboys, he would dearly love to see him in a Queensland State of Origin jumper down the track.
“He’s a freakish talent that doesn’t come by too often. I’m glad he’s here with us and I’m always happy to be playing alongside him,’’ Holmes said.
“He competes on every single kick. That’s just one of his effort areas he brings to the team and he’s also very skilful with the ball.
“He’s originally from the North Queensland area so that might play a part but whatever is best for his future and for him to play consistent first grade, I’m sure he’ll make the right decision.’’
North Queensland coach Todd Payten said the club had started conversations with Nanai’s management but, at their request, had put talks off until after Round 6.
Meanwhile, Broncos captain Adam Reynolds said he was guilty of two “pretty poor errors” with kicks out on the full in the second half of his first home game as a Bronco.
“It was disappointing…we won two games but it was pretty scrappy in both of those games to be honest. This brings us back down to earth,’’ he said.
Broncos coach Kevin Walters described the result as a “punch in the face” for his side that must be respected.
Match: Broncos v Cowboys
Round 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane