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Hold the phone: Holmes' Origin relief after comforting calls

Maroons centre Valentine Holmes spent the weekend waiting by the phone for two important calls – one to see if he was selected for Queensland, and the other to see if he'd even be free to play. 

Holmes admitted to feeling nervous after being sent to the sin bin for a hip drop tackle on Wests Tigers forward Isaiah Papali'i, conscious that he was not only letting his side down in a must-win game, but also putting his Origin chances on the line.

“I am not going to lie, I was a bit nervous,” Holmes said of his sin binning.

“I was thinking about my team at the time. When I got sent off for 10 – I didn't want that score to blow out as much as that, because it always hurts a team losing a player.

"Then, it did come to my thoughts, the next game was an Origin game and if I got suspended, I probably would have missed it.

“I thought what I got done with, with the fine is probably as far as it needed to go.”

Holmes is one of six Cowboys selected for the Origin opener, with Tom Dearden, Jeremiah Nanai, Reuben Cotter and Murray Taulagi earning a place in Billy Slater’s starting line-up and Reece Robson getting the nod for the NSW No.9 jersey.

While the Cowboys have a tough ask facing off against the Roosters, Holmes said coach Todd Payten had always been tremendously supportive of seeing his players in Origin, even if it was for the opposite state to what he'll be cheering.

“Obviously as a team, we weren't probably going too great and it's always hard to look at players for that selection when your team's not going great," Holmes said.

"I wasn't doubtful too much (of missing out); I knew that there were a lot of good outside backs playing well, but I knew if I'd just stayed healthy and did my best and put my best foot forward, I was a chance.

“I spoke to Toddy after the game; it's one thing he's great at; he loves coaching, he loves having a team full of Origin players.

“He's always said he'd rather have a team full of Origin players than not.

“Obviously, he's a Blue, but he's very happy for us, he gave us all a call this morning to congratulate us again.

“It's going be tough for our boys, we've got Roosters on Sunday, but it opens doors for young guys coming through and gives opportunities for them as well.

“It's always good to be recognised like that and it goes to show individually, the boys have been putting their best foot forward for  selection."

A proven performer for Queensland in 16 games so far, Holmes was looking forward to the camp and preparing ahead of the match at Accor Stadium, welcoming the added pressure of kicking goals for the team.

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“It always is pressure, it's pressure doing anything in this jersey, in this arena,” Holmes said.

“You get three games and you have got to win two of them.

“But it's something I've done in the past few years and I've done it for my club for a while. I've done it for Australia.

“I feel like how we do it for this jersey, we earn it and I'll be training and practicing every day whenever we do practice and doing my goal kicking.

“We’ve also got Walshy (Reece Walsh) who can goal kick, Chez (Daly Cherry-Evans) can goal kick … so that’s good.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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