Cronulla youngster Valentine Holmes impresses Gallen
CRONULLA youngster Valentine Holmes more than lived up to the expectations of Sharks' skipper Paul Gallen with an eye-catching NRL debut against Parramatta last Saturday.
But backing it up against the physical Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium this weekend presents a huge challenge for the exciting teenager.
In a debut performance as good as any youngster in recent years, Holmes came close to scoring two or three tries, set one up himself and also saved one in a busy 80 minutes against the Eels.
He posted a team high 190m - the only player to run more metres in the game was Parramatta's man-of-the-match Jarryd Hayne.
The youngster's reward is a trip to New Zealand where he'll likely line-up against Tuimoala Lolohea, another teenager rated a future international star by the Kiwis.
Like Valentine, the light-footed Lolohea, also 19, was outstanding for the Warriors in the U20s last season, scoring 22 tries and being named player of the year.
Earlier this year, Valentine's U20s form for the Sharks was so hot that Queensland selectors named him at fullback in the Maroons side, moving Canberra sensation Anthony Milford into five-eighth to accommodate him.
Former Brisbane Broncos flyer Michael Hancock, who made his debut well before his 18th birthday, said the once maligned wingers, who used to hang around on the end of backlines, were now the entertainers of the game, required to be more than just speedsters.
"I remember when I played my first game for Brisbane I was nervous about just holding onto the ball," the former Queensland and Australian winger told APN.
"These days wingers are big and powerful, but most of all they're absolute athletes. What they can do to get the ball over the try line is absolutely astonishing."
Valentine, born in Townsville but overlooked by the Cowboys, is the new kid on the block in a season in which Newcastle's Akuila Uate has been steamrolled by the likes of Eel's discovery Semi Radradra, Souths try-scoring sensation Alex Johnstone and hulking Warrior Manu Vatuvei who still puts fear into defenders.