Valentine Holmes has confirmed he has a desire to return home to Townsville but is happy to play out the remainder of his contract at Cronulla if he can’t secure a release from the final year of his deal.
The Queensland and Australia winger spoke publicly during a Maroons media session on Thursday in the lead up to Origin III, outlining his wish to move back to North Queensland to be closer to his family.
The Cowboys are reportedly interested in making Holmes their long-term fullback. Holmes signed a two-year contract extension with Cronulla in February last year, with an option in his favour for 2020, after abandoning plans to pursue a career in the NFL.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan told NRL.com last week he was aware of North Queensland’s interest in Holmes but said there was “no way in the world” he would release Holmes before the end of his contract.
“Over my dead body,” Flanagan said.
"He will definitely be here next year and hopefully a lot longer. We're in the process of trying to extend him. We're in negotiations and we've spoken to Val and his manager. As soon as he comes out of Origin we'll be having another conversation about it."
But Holmes said he was surprised by Flanagan’s strong comments and confirmed his wish to return north of the border.
“I didn’t think he was that keen on me. He obviously wants me to stay at the club. [I’ve] still got two more years there,” Holmes said.
“There is a lot of talk at the moment but I’m not really in with that. I’m just leaving it up to my management and the club. But like I said I’ve still got next year and then an option for 2020.
“Obviously my mum and dad are up there, my family is there. They’re getting old and sort of moving on. They’re not really working at the moment so it’d be good to sort of see them every now and then and let them come to more of my games more often. They don’t get to really come to games except when I play up there and obviously if I’m playing Origin they come. But I’d love to see them more often if I could but if it’s not meant to be I can see them a bit later.”
If Holmes were to depart it would leave Cronulla searching for a new No.1. The solution could come from within with Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan already on the books.
Like Flano said, he won’t release me. So I’m just going to stick out this contract and see how we go.Valentine Holmes
Flanagan said in May Cronulla would welcome Ben Barba back to the club after reports suggested Barba was keen on a return to the NRL despite his sparkling form for St Helens in the English Super League.
But the 29-year-old would not be a long-term option and would be contingent on Barba securing a release.
“I don’t know how all that is working. I think Benny has still got another year as well over there. I don’t know how clubs let a player out of contract,” Holmes said.
“Like Flano said, he won’t release me. So I’m just going to stick out this contract and see how we go.”