Cook Islands Rugby League has set its eyes on Valentine Holmes for the upcoming matches leading up to the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.
Holmes, who is of Cook Islands descent, this week was unveiled as North Queensland Cowboys’ marquee signing, having inked a six-year deal worth more than $5 million on his return from New York and the NFL.
Clocking in at just under seven figures per annum, his contract ranks as one of the biggest in the club’s history, though Jason Taumalolo’s whopping 10-year, $10 million commitment still sits in pole position.
Holmes’ return to the NRL has got the national rugby league body excited. Its president Charles Carlson hopes the former Kangaroo will be available to play “a couple of games” for the Kukis.
“He is definitely a drawcard for us. Our coach Tony Iro will be approaching him on possibility of playing for us once he settles down,” Carlson said.
The Kukis, who qualified for the upcoming World Cup after overcoming USA in the qualifiers earlier this month, is hoping to attract some big names for the international tournament to be held England.
Holmes was named in the national team before but he chose to play for Australia instead, Carlson said.
The 24-year-old fullback/winger earned 13 test caps for the Kangaroos. He played for the Cronulla Sharks in the NRL competition before heading to the United States to try his luck in NFL.
Holmes was signed by the New York Jets and played a handful of warm-up matches before he quit NFL to return to NRL.
Fronting the media for the first time in North Queensland colours, Holmes said he did not feel additional pressure from the multimillion-dollar investment made in him by the club.
But he does appreciate the good faith kept in him while on the other side of the globe in another code.
“Since I was off contract with the Sharks there was interest from the Cowboys,” Holmes said.
“I was always intrigued on coming home and starting my life back home with my family again.
“It was obviously a big decision on the club's side of view … They had a lot of faith in me, when I was moving overseas they didn't know what I was going to do.
“To show that faith in me is awesome and I’ll obviously try and show it back when I'm playing.”
NRL chief executive officer Todd Greenberg was pleased to see Holmes back in the Telstra Premiership.
“When he left I congratulated him on chasing a dream but I always thought he’d be back sooner rather than later,” Greenberg said.
“That has proven to be right and he is welcomed back. It is great to see him back. If there wasn’t enough heat going in to the very first game at the brand new stadium at Townsville then Valentine will add a bit more flavour to it.”
- Additional reporting from NRL.com