Holmes shoots down Cowboys’ hopes
Valentine Holmes has delivered a dagger to North Queensland's rebuilding plans by declaring there was "zero" chance he would return to the NRL this year.
Holmes is in America trying to secure a contract with an NFL franchise after making the shock decision to quit the NRL.
The incumbent Kangaroos and Maroons winger was near certain to leave Cronulla and sign with North Queensland for the 2020 NRL season before deciding to have a crack at the NFL.
Holmes, 23, was released from his 2019 contract by Cronulla under the proviso the Sharks got first crack at signing him if his NFL dalliance failed.
But with Cronulla facing salary cap constraints, it has become apparent the Sharks could not fit Holmes into their roster if he returned this season.
Following the sacking of fullback prospect Ben Barba, the Cowboys have cash to accommodate Holmes if he returned to the NRL this season.
But the Townsville product was emphatic in declaring he would not feature in the NRL this year.
"It's zero," Holmes said when asked about the chances he will return to Australia to play in the NRL this year.
"I'm very happy with my decision that I'm over here."
Holmes' declaration means the Cowboys face the prospect of using Broncos recruit Jordan Kahu at fullback for much of the season, unless he fails to fire.
Holmes has one month to go in the intensive 12-week program at the IMG Academy in Florida designed to prepare him for the NFL.
Holmes was selected for the NFL Pathways program which is designed for elite non-US athletes hoping to make it in the NFL.
His biggest test comes in early April when NFL scouts converge on IMG for a combine to assess the Pathway players.
Holmes said he has stacked on 3kg of muscle, lost body fat and feels stronger and faster than he was last season with the Sharks.
It was at last year's combine former South Sydney junior Jordan Mailata was so impressive the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the NFL Draft.
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Holmes says he will learn next week how the NFL training regimen, which focuses on short, explosive bursts of power, has impacted his speed when his coaches put him through sprint work.
"I think I am faster," Holmes said.
"I don't really know yet because I haven't really opened up.
"I'm definitely stronger. I'm not surprised because the gym sessions have been pretty intense. I can feel it and see it in myself."
If Holmes' NFL venture fails, the Cowboys will be in the box seat to sign him for the 2020 NRL season and beyond.