Sport: Thurston's massive call on Holmes NRL return - - PressFrom - Australia
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Sport Thurston's massive call on Holmes NRL return

07:00  22 october  2019
07:00  22 october  2019 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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a close up of a person holding a baseball bat: Valentine Holmes during his time with the New York Jets.© Getty Valentine Holmes during his time with the New York Jets. Holmes is on the brink of leaving the New York Jets and signing with North Queensland on a $1 million per season deal, Wide World of Sports' The Mole reported on Tuesday.

Still just 24, Holmes would play fullback for the Cowboys and look to build on the first phase of his NRL career, which made him a Queensland and Kangaroos superstar while playing at the Sharks.

Holmes was not the finished product as a No.1 but Thurston exclusively told Wide World of Sports that he could undergo the same transformation as Roosters ace Tedesco, who this year won the Dally M Medal as rugby league's best player.

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"I'd see him playing fullback. He's still developing his game, that's for sure," Thurston said.

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"He reminds me a bit of Tedesco before he arrived at the Roosters, in the fact that he's more of a ball-runner than a ball-player.

"Over the last couple of years, Tedesco's really developed that skill area; the three-on-twos and two-on-ones, hitting the right person to score tries.

Will Chambers, Valentine Holmes are posing for a picture: Valentine Holmes during his last game for the Sharks in 2018.© Getty Valentine Holmes during his last game for the Sharks in 2018. "No doubt he (Holmes) will develop that over the next couple of years. He's still young enough to do that.

"He's a very skillful player, Val, knows how to find the tryline; but certainly that (passing) is part of his game he needs to develop.

"The coaching staff we have at the Cowboys will certainly be able to help him develop that. He'll be a great acquisition for the club if we can get him."

The immediate challenge for Holmes will be his readjustment from American football to rugby league; from brute force to a balance of power and endurance. Holmes will likely need to trim some bulk from his NFL training and reacquaint himself with running long distances under duress.

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Unlike when Jarryd Hayne returned from the NFL to join the Gold Coast Titans, late in the 2016 season, Holmes could have a full pre-season under his belt before playing for the Cowboys next year. Holmes is also four years younger than Hayne was when he came back to rugby league.

Having won two Dally M Medals as a fullback, Hayne struggled with the demands of the position after spending time in the NFL as a muscled-up running back.

"Playing fullback, you cover more metres than any other position in the competition now, so no doubt that's something he'll have to work on when - if - he comes back," Thurston said.

a close up of Valentine Holmes in a baseball game: Valentine Holmes takes a run for Australia in a Test against Tonga last year.© Getty Valentine Holmes takes a run for Australia in a Test against Tonga last year.

The Cowboys reportedly offered Holmes $4 million over five seasons last year to leave the Sharks. He stunned both clubs by pursuing his NFL dream.

North Queensland will hope that the superstar can help them rebound from a disappointing 2019 season, in which they finished 14th. Scott Drinkwater joined from Melbourne mid-season to play fullback and did a solid job, but Holmes could take the Cowboys to another level.

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"They'll be looking to bounce back from the last couple of years and I think they've got the roster to be able to do that," Thurston said.

"There'll be a new stadium for the boys to run out on, too, and they'll have an opportunity to create their own memories; to create a fortress-like atmosphere that has probably been missing the last couple of years.

"Having a player of Valentine's calibre just adds a whole new dimension to the Cowboys.

Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis celebrate a try with Valentine Holmes (unseen, centre) during a 2016 Test.© Getty Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis celebrate a try with Valentine Holmes (unseen, centre) during a 2016 Test.

"He'd be a great signing, given he's a local product, a Townsville boy with a great connection to the city," Thurston said.

"He's a good bloke to be around. He likes to have a bit of fun and doesn't take himself too seriously.

"But when he trains, he trains really well. He knows how to go from having a joke on the training field to switching his mind on to the job. That's what the better players can do and that's why they're rep level.

"A person of his character, he'll fit right in."

Nathan Cleary et al. playing football on a field: Valentine Holmes scores a try for Queensland during State of Origin last season.© Getty Valentine Holmes scores a try for Queensland during State of Origin last season.

Provided his return to rugby league goes smoothly, Holmes would also offer a boost to a Queensland side that has lost the past two State of Origin series to NSW.

Holmes was a dynamic winger for the Maroons, with eight tries from five games. He also once scored a record six tries in a single Test for Australia; the 2017 World Cup semi-final against Fiji.

"We've seen what he's been able to do at Origin level and at Australian level," Thurston said.

"In those rep teams, he'll be vying for those spots that he had made his own."

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