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Maroons have the keys to unlock Holmes puzzle

On Tuesday, November 20, the Cronulla Sharks released Valentine Holmes from the final year of his contract after he expressed his desire to pursue a career in the NFL.

Under the terms of his agreement with the Sharks around his departure; if Holmes is unable to secure an NFL contract and returns to the NRL in 2019, he will do so with Cronulla.

If he does return to the game after the conclusion of 2019, he will be a free agent for the 2020 season and there will no doubt be plenty of clubs who would be interested in welcoming the talented athlete.

Holmes runs the length of the field to score a try - Game 3, 2018
Holmes runs the length of the field to score a try - Game 3, 2018

Although the rugby league fraternity wish him well on his new journey, there is no questioning his departure will be keenly felt not only the NRL, but also by the Queensland Maroons.

During the 2018 series, Holmes was the leading point scorer and the leading try scorer for either team with four tries and six goals to his name.

He scored 63% of Queensland’s points, including 50% of their tries in the 2018 series.

Holmes has now scored eight tries in five matches for the Maroons, at a strike-rate of 1.6 tries per game.

To put this into perspective, Origin's leading try scorer Greg Inglis has produced 18 tries in 32 games.

Only eight other players have scored nine or more tries in State of Origin history.

Kalyn Ponga - Queensland Maroons - Game 2, 2018
Kalyn Ponga - Queensland Maroons - Game 2, 2018

However, as is often the case in rugby league - when an opportunity presents itself; there is always someone who is willing to put their hand up to grab it.

Queensland is blessed to have a plethora of young talented outside backs who would jump at the chance to claim a position in the team left by the absence of Holmes.

This was demonstrated this year with the emergence of young Maroons star Kalyn Ponga (pictured above), who was a shining light for Queensland in his first appearance.

The departure of Holmes, also opens the door for Brisbane Broncos flyer Corey Oates to secure a permanent place in the side.

Other contenders for Holmes wing spot could include North Queensland Cowboys try scoring duo Kyle Feldt and Nene McDonald, who have both previously featured in Queensland Emerging  Origin programs.

Feldt was part of the extended Maroons squad throughout the 2018 series.

Former Easts Mt Gravatt junior Corey Thompson could also be an outside chance for a Maroons call up, after enjoying a successful return to the NRL with the Wests Tigers in 2018.

Valentine Holmes Origin highlights

VALENTINE HOLMES CAREER STATS:

AUSTRALIA:

-       Games: 13
-       Tries: 17
-       Goals: 9
-       Points: 86
-       Win Percentage: 92%

QUEENSLAND MAROONS:

-       Games: 5
-       Tries: 8
-       Goals: 6
-       Points: 44
-       Win Percentage: 60%

CRONULLA SHARKS:

-       Games: 105
-       Tries: 66
-       Goals: 51
-       Points: 369
-       Win Percentage: 61%

Read >> Sharks Statement - Valentine Holmes