North Queensland is offering Holmes a way back if he fails to crack the NFL. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AAP
North Queensland is offering Holmes a way back if he fails to crack the NFL. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AAP

Cowboys offer open invitation to Holmes

NORTH Queensland hse left the door ajar for Valentine Holmes to sign with the Cowboys if the Maroons Origin star fails in his ambitious NFL gamble.

The Cowboys tabled a four-year offer worth an estimated $3.5 million just weeks before Holmes stunned the NRL fraternity by announcing his shock defection to chase his American dream.

North Queensland was rated the frontrunner to secure Holmes for the 2020 season and such was the secrecy surrounding his NFL ambitions, the Cowboys were totally unaware of any defection plan.

Holmes is so determined to crack the American market there is a possibility he may never return to rugby league, but if he fails to clinch an NFL contract, the Cowboys are keen to put out the welcome mat.

"We're still interested in Valentine," Cowboys general manager of football Peter Parr said on Thursday.

"We will be like a lot of people, we'll sit back and watch his move to America with interest and see how it unfolds.

"We wish Valentine all the best if that's what he wants to do.

"If at some stage it doesn't work out the way Val hopes and he wants to have a look at coming back to the NRL, we'd be happy to talk to his management again."

Holmes' decision takes some pressure off new Cowboy Ben Barba.
Holmes' decision takes some pressure off new Cowboy Ben Barba.

The big winner in Holmes' decision is new Cowboys recruit Ben Barba.

The former Dally M golden boy has signed only a 12-month deal and was expected to be moved on if the Cowboys snared Holmes.

Now Barba, 29, has a golden opportunity to extend his future in Townsville.

"It's a big loss (missing out on Holmes) but Benny Barba's no slouch," Cowboys prop Matt Scott said.

"I know Ben's only got a one-year deal at the moment but it's fully up to him what he does with that one year.

"If he really plays the way that everyone knows he can play and looks after himself off the field, there's no reason why he can't force the club's hand and stay at the Cowboys long-term.

"He's still got a few years left in him. He's won a premiership, a Man of Steel and the Dally M … he's a great long-term option for the club."

Australia and Queensland will miss Holmes’s talent. Picture: David Rowland/AAP
Australia and Queensland will miss Holmes’s talent. Picture: David Rowland/AAP

Scott refused to be critical of Holmes for giving up Queensland and Australia jumpers and a $5 million Cronulla contract to roll the dice in the NFL.

"Val's going to be a big loss for Queensland and Australia and any other club, but we've seen there's plenty of athletes coming through, plenty of good players that can take his spot," he said.