Holmes purring ahead of NRL return: NQ

The Cowboys say new recruit Valentine Holmes is primed for the start of the new NRL season.
The Cowboys say new recruit Valentine Holmes is primed for the start of the new NRL season.

He is yet to make his long awaited NRL return but North Queensland know exactly what to expect from Valentine Holmes in Saturday's trial against Brisbane in Cairns.

And the Broncos won't like what the Cowboys have to say.

"From what we have seen there is very little rust there - he is purring," Cowboys assistant Josh Hannay warned.

"But we were fully aware of what Val brings to the table. I am pretty confident in what Val will produce - we are just hoping that he comes away unscathed."

After his failed NFL sojourn, Holmes will get his first crack at the Cowboys' No.1 jersey against the Broncos at Barlow Park.

It will mark the 24-year-old former Australian and Queensland star's first professional rugby league game since the 2018 finals with Cronulla.

But Hannay revealed the Cowboys had planned to keep Holmes in cotton wool for another week, not unleashing him until their February 29 trial against Melbourne.

"I think it was him that approached Greeny (coach Paul Green) about playing this weekend," Hannay said.

"We were probably thinking about keeping him fresh for the following week but Val has probably got itchy feet and wants to get on the park so he can hit the ground running as best he can before round one."

Hannay expected Green to give Holmes a 20 to 30 minute stint against the Broncos in Cairns.

"It will be really good for him just to get out on the field again and play the game," he said.

"It's been a little while so this is a good way to get himself up and running before the pressure of the season comes around."

Apart from Holmes, focus at the Cairns trial will also be on Scott Drinkwater and Jake Clifford as they make a last-ditch pitch to be Cowboys captain Michael Morgan's halves partner for round one.

Drinkwater appeared to have the early running after helping inspire North Queensland's NRL Nines triumph in Perth and being named player of the tournament.

But Hannay expected Clifford to provide stiff competition.

"Both Jake and Drinky have had tremendous pre-seasons and it's been healthy competition there - at the moment it is a tightly run race," Hannay said.

Australian Associated Press