The Cronulla Sharks and Queensland flyer says getting banned after the Emerging Maroons’ curfew scandal has helped him in the long run.
In February last year, Queensland had brought its next wave of talent into camp. Valentine Holmes featured in this circle of sure-to-be Maroons, which included Cameron Munster, Anthony Milford, Dylan Napa, Jarrod Wallace and Ben Hunt.
This Origin junior varsity had been a key program to Queensland’s set-up since Wayne Bennett brought it in as Maroons’ coach in the early 2000s. The 2016 class did not go into distinction, as the extra-long night out landed eight players with 12-month bans from Origin.
Holmes was one of them, and he also faced an investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit for an incident with a taxi driver. Widely seen as a chance to make his Origin debut, he found himself sidelined.
Having made his debut in Origin II, and looking ahead to making his first appearance in front of a home crowd on Wednesday, Holmes can say he made it through the experience.
“I learned a lot from it,” Holmes says in an upcoming edition of Inside Sport. “Personally, I felt not ready for Origin that young. I’d only played 25 games then.
Over the rest of the 2016 season, Holmes won a premiership with Cronulla and earned a Test cap. He flirted with an NFL trial, and landed a big, new contract to remain at the Sharks. With his 22nd birthday still to come in two weeks, an Origin series win – with several of his team-mates from the Emerging Maroons on the team – represents a last level to conquer.
“It (the ban) has played a part in being motivated to do well. They played well last year. It was a good team. I was only young, I’m glad happened it then, so I learned from it.”