Holmes to make Qld Origin return

Ed Jackson
·3-min read

A year after returning to rugby league, Valentine Holmes is back in Queensland's State of Origin team.

The 25-year-old, who quit the NRL in 2018 to attempt a career in the NFL, has been named at fullback in place of the injured AJ Brimson for the Maroons in next week's game two clash with NSW in Sydney.

It will be Holmes' first appearance for his state in the No.1 jersey after playing his five previous Origin matches on the wing.

"I've obviously played well for Queensland on the wing," said Holmes, who has scored an incredible eight tries in his five appearances for the Maroons.

"I don't really need to prove anything to anyone. I don't really care what other people think.

"I just want to play footy, that's what I'm here to do and love doing. It doesn't matter where I play."

Holmes is one of three new faces in the Queensland 17 as they attempt to wrap up the series on enemy territory next Wednesday.

Coach Wayne Bennett has dropped Coen Hess while Christian Welch has been omitted after picking up a head knock in game one despite passing an initial concussion assessment.

Dunamis Lui will make his Origin debut after being named in place of Welch in the front-row while Gold Coast youngster Moeaki Fotuaika is also in line to make his first Queensland appearance from the interchange bench.

Jaydn Su'A has been elevated to take Hess's starting role after his impressive display off the bench in the second half of Wednesday's victory.

Brenko Lee, a late scratching for game one, has been named on the reserves list of the 21-man squad while Kurt Capewell stays in the centres despite his ongoing battle with a sore groin.

Holmes, suspended for game one, is confident he's ready to deliver for Queensland despite having not played since North Queensland's last NRL fixture against Brisbane in September.

"It doesn't help having not played any finals footy," he said.

"It's been over a month, nearly two, since I've played, but these guys have kept in shape and I did training before I came into camp.

"In this team everyone looks after each other out there and we all push and fight for each other. It makes everyone else's job a bit easier.

"I feel like I'm fit enough and ready to go."

While gutted Gold Coast flyer Brimson's series is over after one game due to a foot injury, Holmes is itching to follow in the footsteps of other players who have made the Queensland No.1 jersey famous.

"I was lucky enough to play with a lot of the guys I looked up to like Darius Boyd and Billy Slater," Holmes said.

"Those two really stick out. Matty Bowen was another great player I used to like watching at fullback.

"I learnt a lot from Billy and Darius in particular, because I played when Billy was out and Darius was fullback for a while. He did really well for state and country.

"I've been pretty lucky to learn from those guys. Hopefully I can learn a bit more."

QLD TEAM FOR ORIGIN II:

Valentine Holmes, Xavier Coates, Kurt Capewell, Dane Gagai, Phillip Sami, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans, Dunamis Lui, Jake Friend, Josh Papalii, Felise Kaufusi, Jaydn Su'A, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Lindsay Collins, Jai Arrow, Moeaki Fotuaika. Reserves: Brenko Lee, Corey Allan, Josh Kerr, Edrick Lee.