Holmes would step aside for Barba’s Sharks comeback

Ben Barba and Valentine Holmes had a lethal combination in Cronulla’s 2016 premiership side.
Ben Barba and Valentine Holmes had a lethal combination in Cronulla’s 2016 premiership side.

HE'S been honing his skills at fullback, but Cronulla gun Valentine Holmes says he'd happily vacate the No.1 jersey if fallen premiership star Ben Barba were to make a Sharks NRL return.

After being suspended for 12 games for a second illicit drugs strike following the Sharks' 2016 grand final win, Barba had a brief stint in French rugby before signing with St Helens where he's set the Super League alight.

Despite being on contract until 2019, Barba's made it no secret he'd like to return to the NRL one day, while Sharks coach Shane Flanagan recently said he'd welcome the 28-year-old livewire back to the Shire, a sentiment.Holmes echoed.

Holmes and Barba competing at training for the Sharks in 2016.
Holmes and Barba competing at training for the Sharks in 2016.

"I heard he played really well in their first game," Holmes said.

"I think any club would like to have him, he's a great player.

"It was unfortunate that he had to leave, but I'm sure if there was an opportunity for him to play somewhere any club would take him."

Asked if he'd shift from fullback to make way for Barba, Holmes replied: "Yeah, if he wanted to come back."

Much has been made about Holmes' position at the Sharks following the acquisitions of accomplished fullbacks Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan, but the 22-year-old never felt his spot was in jeopardy because "I re-signed to play fullback".

Holmes confirmed he'll start in the custodian role in Saturday's pre-season trial against Manly at Southern Cross Group Stadium and expected to play the "first quarter and a bit" of the game.

Matt Moylan during Cronulla training.
Matt Moylan during Cronulla training.

He said he'd been picking the brains of both Dugan and Moylan in order to improve his game.

"They've been giving me tips on what they've done in the past," he said.

"I've tried to implement that into my game. It's good having them here.

"I learnt a lot off Benny when he was here and now I get two more experienced fullbacks which is really good.

"Moyza's played a fair bit of fullback so he can play a sweeping role on the side he plays - which is left - and I can do a sweeping role on the right.

"It actually opens up more ways for us to get involved and get out the back.

"I think it's a good idea what we've been doing."

Valentine Holmes makes a break.
Valentine Holmes makes a break.

Following the 2017 season, Flanagan identified the team's attack as a weak point with the side having scored 30 less tries than their premiership year.

Holmes hoped Sharks fans would see more points in the upcoming year as he continues to work with Moylan, halfback Chad Townsend and hooker Jayden Brailey.

"Just working on combinations with hooker and halves," Holmes said when asked what he needed to do to cement his spot in the No.1 jumper.

"The spine is where you lead the team around.

"As we learn more about the way we all play, it'll go a long way to improving all of us, not just myself."

Topics:  ben barba cronulla sharks nrl 2018 rugby league super league valentine holmes

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