Holmes: I want to be Queensland No. 1
VALENTINE Holmes' Origin dreams were shaped by the two men he would most like to emulate in rugby league's toughest arena.
AS a young lad growing up in Townsville, Homes was inspired by North Queensland heroes with the No. 1 jersey on their backs.
Innisfail's Billy Slater and Hope Vale product Matty Bowen were the men the young Holmes idolised as he shaped his dreams in the backyards and grassy fields of the north.
"I used to watch (Slater) and Matty Bowen, they were my two favourite players," said Holmes, who arrives on the Gold Coast with the rest of the Maroons squad on Wednesday evening.
"As a kid you always commentate yourself … I think every kid would have done that when they were younger.
"It's always something that you naturally do when you're a kid - you just aspire to be like them and play like them.
"You commentate yourself that you're them. I was those two - Billy and Matty Bowen."
Renowned NRL finisher Holmes, who stormed into Queensland Origin folklore with a hat-trick in Queensland's series-sealing Game Three win last year, will play on the wing for the Maroons next week but fullback is his preferred position.
And with Slater announcing on Tuesday he will retire from representative football at the end of this Origin series, Holmes says he can step up and fill his shoes next year.
"It's definitely something I want to try and do," he said.
"But I've got to master that at club level first and stamp my foot down at club level and then if I get called up on to play fullback (for Queensland), I'll definitely take it.
"I just like getting involved more, I feel like I play better games if I'm getting involved more on the inside and not stuck out on the edge."
Wonder kid Kalyn Ponga is being anointed in many quarters as the Maroons' future No. 1 but like Slater himself, Holmes said Darius Boyd could not be forgotten.
"You've still got Darius Boyd, he's still pretty young and got a few years left and the way he's been going, he'll probably be the next (Queensland fullback) until he retires.
"I'm easy. I'm happy playing on the wing for Queensland.
"Darius Boyd obviously had to wait while Billy Slater was playing fullback, so I'll wait my turn and if I get picked on the wing, so be it."
Slater himself started his Origin career on the flank, with most believing he was too small to play at the back for the Maroons.
But the man who has changed the way the position is played, will forever have the admiration of the kid from Townsville.
"From where he started in Innisfail to be now regarded as the best fullback that's ever played the game, it's pretty special," said Holmes, who will also kick for Queensland next Wednesday night.
"I've got to play some games with him and in hindsight (I'm grateful).
"Hopefully we get to send him out on a high and send him out on some big wins."