’Stronger, faster’ Holmes returns a new player
Valentine Holmes says he wants to repay North Queensland's faith after they waited almost a year to finally sign him on a six-season NRL deal from 2020 following his failed NFL experiment.
The Cowboys officially unveiled their prized signing at a Townsville press conference on Monday after keeping in touch with Holmes when the ex-Cronulla flyer left in late 2018 to pursue his NFL dream with New York Jets.
North Queensland set aside a hefty chunk of salary cap space as they sweated on his return before signing Holmes on a deal reportedly worth almost $1 million a season barely 24 hours after his NFL release.
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"To show that faith in me is awesome and I will try to show it back when I play - I am here to win, that is what my mindset is going to be," Townsville-born Holmes said.
"It was a kind of an easy decision (signing with Cowboys). I have family here, have friends here from school and I have always loved the Cowboys since I was growing up. It's good to be back home."
Holmes said he had no regrets about his NFL stint but admitted he would be rusty when he eventually hits the training paddock for North Queensland.
"I feel a bit stronger, bit faster, bit better agility-wise but my stamina is something I will have to focus on and my ball skills," he said.
"I haven't played footy in a while but I am sure I will get it back."
However, North Queensland coach Paul Green believed the 24-year-old would return to the NRL a better player.
"I think given his age and experience he has the potential to come back a better player," he said.
"We are over the moon about signing him. A guy like Valentine with his skill set and athletic ability can really add an extra dimension to our attack."
Holmes is expected to spark a Cowboys side that has missed the finals the last two seasons.
But asked if Holmes' signing made North Queensland 2020 title contenders, Green said: "I am not going to make any early crows like that, that's ridiculous."
Holmes is tipped to don North Queensland's No.1 jersey but Green balked when asked where he would play his star signing.
"The demands of the game have probably changed a little bit since last time he pulled the boots on," he said.
"We will see where he is at when he gets on the training paddock."
Green was also coy when asked if Holmes' signing ended their interest in Sydney Roosters X-factor Latrell Mitchell who toured the club's facilities last week.
"Those conversations with Latrell are still ongoing but signing Val is a pretty big story for the club so I would prefer to keep today about that," he said.