Valentine Holmes admitted he was a little bit nervous as he pulled on the North Queensland jersey prior to his first appearance for the Cowboys in Saturday night's trial against the Broncos.
The Townsville product played almost 30 minutes of the first half as the Cowboys came from behind to notch at 18-16 victory at a rain-soaked Barlow Park in Cairns.
The Sharks premiership winner said it was a big deal to play his first game of rugby league since 2018 after he missed last season to chase an NFL dream.
"It was awesome. It was an honour," Holmes said.
"I was a little bit nervous (before the match). To run out in front of the local fans up here was definitely a memorable moment."
The man who famously scored 11 tries in the space of a week in two Test matches at the end of 2017, said he would be better for the run after knocking up midway through the opening half.
"It obviously didn't help that it was a heavy track out there," he said.
Match Highlights: Cowboys v Broncos
"I felt it got to my legs a lot quicker than i would have liked but it was a very fast game in the first 20 minutes.
"After that drinks break we had it kind of got to me after that and I came off 10 minutes later."
Holmes barely touched the ball in attack, but was rock solid in defence, cleaning up several kicks, including a high bomb from Anthony Milford.
"I knew I was only going to play 30 minutes so I wanted to get involved as much as possible without showing too much as we have them in a couple of weeks," he said.
"Next week I'd like to play a bit more time and last a bit longer with my legs."
Jake Clifford made just one conversion from four attempts and it appears likely Holmes will get some kicking duties in next week's trial against the Storm.
"We're just sharing the load," Holmes said.
"I think he was striking them well before the game so he was confident to take it.
"There's maybe four or five of us that kick them every day in training."
Holmes said he was looking forward to the return of skipper Michael Morgan as the Cowboys look to shore up their combinations ahead of their round one match against the Broncos.