Holmes Not Threatened By Sharks Fullback Signings
Incumbent Sharks fullback Valentine Holmes says he is not worried about his No.1 jersey at Cronulla next year despite the club having now signed two representative fullbacks.
Speaking after playing fullback in the Kangaroos 34-0 World Cup win over Lebanon in Sydney on Saturday night, Holmes said he expects fellow Kangaroo Josh Dugan to take over Jack Bird's vacated centre spot next season and former Panther Matt Moylan to slot in for Penrith-bound playmaker James Maloney in the halves.
Though Holmes stressed he would accept the decision belonged to coach Shane Flanagan and that he would accept whatever decision Flanagan made, he did expect to continue in the fullback role at NRL level in 2018.
"No, not really concerned [by the Moylan signing], we signed Dugan as well," Holmes said.
"We've obviously got some good depth there now. I'm not that concerned."
Holmes had not yet spoken to Flanagan about the coach's plans for the Sharks next year, preferring to focus on World Cup duty.
"It's definitely [going to be] a new combination there. With Jimmy gone we'll need someone there on the left side so we'll see how we go with that," Holmes said.
"I think 'Duges' will jump straight into Birdy's spot, you'd assume so. We'll see what Flanno chooses."
Asked if he expected to form a new-look spine alongside Moylan and halfback Chad Townsend, Holmes added: "That's what I'd like to think but he's the coach and he makes the calls so we'll see what he says."
Not only is Holmes anticipating playing fullback at club level next season, he hopes to one day make the green and gold No.1 jersey his own.
"It's my future spot, I hope, I'd love to play fullback [for Australia]," he said.
"Obviously Billy Slater's there and he's the best fullback in the game so I won't be pushing him out of a spot."
There is a view that the Sharks missed the ball-playing spark of 2016 premiership fullback Ben Barba in a 2017 campaign that never quite hit its straps, ending in the first week of the finals.
While Holmes acquitted himself well against the Cedars, with 185 metres and a late try assist, the playmaking combinations were an issue. Billy Slater will come back into a best 17 to take on Samoa next week and Holmes is hopeful of remaining in the side on the wing.
"I'm not really expecting anything, I'm hoping to [play] but obviously Duges and Chambers come back in the centres so it opens up more wings and we've got some great wingers in the team," he said.
"I'd love to play next week but it will be a good headache for Mal (coach Mal Meninga).
"I think all the boys have played well on the wing, it helps we're winning all our games so the wingers are scoring a couple of tries. I'm easy if I don't play, I'm sure he'll pick the best team."
Holmes was pleased with the team's defensive effort against the Cedars but admits he has plenty to work on in attack and defence – which for now Slater is helping him with while both are in the squad together.
"I probably could have done a lot more with my decision making at the back there [against Lebanon]," he said.
"Defensively we did really well, offensively we went away from our game plan a little bit... I think that's what we'll be focusing on next week.
"Defence [is] the main thing I want to try and work on. You win games if you defend well... It helps when you've got the best players in the game and they know where to be and where to go, it makes my job a bit easier but Slater did help me through the week with defensive structure and where to put the boys. He did a lot to help."
This article first appeared on NRL.com