Valentine Holmes tries to shrug a tackle in the Cowboys’ trial clash against the Melbourne Storm on February 29 in Melbourne. Picture: Mike Owen/Getty Images
Valentine Holmes tries to shrug a tackle in the Cowboys’ trial clash against the Melbourne Storm on February 29 in Melbourne. Picture: Mike Owen/Getty Images

Cowboy great salutes new No.1 Valentine Holmes

THE greatest fullback in the Cowboys’ history, Matt Bowen, has backed Valentine Holmes to fire in the No.1 jumper as North Queensland look to climb back into finals football.

Holmes’ return to rugby league has been the talk of the NRL off-­season. The media, former players and everyday punters have all had their two cents’ worth on how they think he’ll go.

Now Bowen (pictured right) has had his say on the Cowboys’ new star.

“I think he’s going to slot in nicely,” Bowen said. “He’s obviously been away from the sport but now he’s back in North Queensland around his family and his friends – I think that’s going to be great for him.

“He had some good moments in that trial in Melbourne and he’ll be better for it now he’s played with his teammates.”

With the Cowboys’ attack failing to fire throughout 2019, finishing 14th in tries scored, last in linebreaks and last in tackle breaks, Bowen has backed the former Shark to ignite a backline featuring fellow new recruit Esan Marsters, Michael Morgan, Scott Drinkwater and Kyle Feldt.

Valentine Holmes (cap, front) and fellow Cowboys tune in at training. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Valentine Holmes (cap, front) and fellow Cowboys tune in at training. Picture: Alix Sweeney

“He’s going to bring that bit of X-factor the Cowboys needed,” Bowen said.

“He’s got speed and he’s a great finisher and the Cowboys need both of those things.

“He was great at fullback for the Sharks in his last season there and I can’t wait to see him in the Cowboys’ No.1.”

One of the true excitement machines of the NRL throughout his 270 games, Bowen left big shoes to fill when he departed the competi­tion at the end of the 2013 season.

The Cowboys have had numerous players fill the custodian role since that time, but none has arrived with the lofty expectation that they might be able to reach the level of ‘Mango’s’ magic.

Holmes just might be that man.

“I was excited when Benny (Barba) was brought in, but we know that didn’t go to plan,” Bowen said.

“I thought (Lachlan) Coote did a great job while he was here as well – he was a premiership winner.

“Val is a great buy and I’m excited to see him play for the Cowboys. I’m expecting him to have a great year.”

Speaking at the NRL season launch, Holmes said he had needed a break from rugby league while pursuing his NFL ambitions.

Now back where it all began, the 24-year-old said everything was in place for him to recapture the form he produced in 2018.

“For some reason a new team, new coach, back home – I feel a lot better up there,” Holmes said.

“I had a good year off and I feel real good mentally and physically and I’m ready to go for this year.

“Hopefully I can show that on the field.”

With the Broncos waiting to spoil Holmes’ homecoming and the Cowboys’ christening of Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Friday night, the State of Origin star is looking forward to fighting fire with fire.

“I’ve played in some big games like that, so my nerves, I’ll try and hold them down,” Holmes said.

“I’m just really excited to get out there, play and get a good win.

“From the way we’ve been training I’m really happy with how we’re going.

“If we can all stay fit and healthy and get through each game consistently I’m pretty certain we’ll go well.”



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