Valentine Holmes set for Kangaroos debut after committing to play for New Zealand

Valentine Holmes in action for the Junior Kangaroos in 2014. Photo / Photosport
Valentine Holmes in action for the Junior Kangaroos in 2014. Photo / Photosport

Valentine Holmes had committed to play for the Kiwis - but now New Zealand face the prospect of lining up against the player they identified as a long-term Test player.

Holmes is on the verge of capping a remarkable season with the Cronulla flyer on the brink of his Test debut. Fresh from tasting premiership success with the Sharks, Holmes is in line to play his first Test against the Kiwis in Perth on Saturday after being named in the Kangaroos' 24-man Four-Nations squad.

Holmes could have easily been lining up against the Kangaroos had he not gone back on his promise to represent New Zealand.

Then Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney made a pitch to the Townsville-born Holmes, fast-tracking his inclusion into the national side after six top grade games. Australia on the other hand were at the same time offering a spot in the Junior Kangaroos.

"(Kearney) called me up," Holmes said. "It was at the end of the year and I was on our mad Monday. To get a call from him was unreal. I was in and out of the NRL. That's why I almost went with the Kiwis, he was keen and could see me in the Kiwis side in the future.

"I chose (the Kiwis). I had to call him back and tell him I made my mind up. He was fine. He wasn't that happy but he said good luck in the future and to take care."

Despite Kearney reaching out, it was a frank conversation with his family which swayed Holmes back to the Kangaroos. He also lent on Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen for advice.

"I was going to choose the Kiwis because I got named in the main squad and I was in the Junior Kangaroos," Holmes said.

"I was trying to look at my options and look at the bigger picture. I had another talk with my dad and he said 'where have you been playing your whole life?' And I said 'Queensland'. 'And where were you born'? He asked. I said 'Queensland'. He said it was up to me but I knew straight away he wanted me to play for Queensland.

"Gal (Gallen) said to do whatever was right in your heart and don't listen to anyone else. People will try and make you go to New Zealand or Australia but just do what is right."

Holmes and prop Shannon Boyd are set to make their debut with Josh Mansour and Aaron Woods missing for their respective weddings. Justin O'Neill is on standby to replace Greg Inglis, who is waiting for wife Sally to give birth to their second child. O'Neill is also a wing option for coach Mal Meninga, ahead of Holmes.

Back-rower Tyson Frizell also looks to be included on an extended bench, for an Australia side which will travel to Perth today after attending the Kangaroos reunion.

"I'd love to play but I don't expect to play," Holmes said.

"There are some unreal wingers and they beat the Kiwis in the last game.

"If I do get named it will be awesome. I'm just trying to soak it all up. It's finally sunk in that I've won the premiership. Now I'm here, it's finally hit me. I'm emotional."

Likely Australia squad for Perth Test

Darius Boyd, Valentine Holmes, Josh Dugan, Greg Inglis/Justin O'Neill, Blake Ferguson, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, Shannon Boyd, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett, Trent Merrin.
Interchange (from): David Klemmer, Sam Thaiday, Michael Morgan, Josh Papalii, Tyson Frizell.


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