Holmes‘ lockdown homework for Titans clash
North Queensland fullback Valentine Holmes used the NRL season suspension to fast-track his return to rugby league.
Holmes will be back in the No.1 jersey when the Cowboys reboot their 2020 campaign against the Gold Coast Titans in Townsville next Friday night.
The two-month COVID-19 shutdown was a speed bump for Holmes, who was only two games into his Cowboys career following his one-year sojourn in the NFL.
But the Queensland Origin flyer used the break to further hone his league skills after missing a year of footy while he tried to crack the NFL with the New York Jets.
Holmes, 24, practised catching bombs by himself and completed early morning fitness sessions in Townsville parks to ensure he was ready to hit the ground running when the NRL season rebooted.
"It wasn't ideal, I was looking forward to getting a few more games under my belt," Holmes said.
"I did a bit of video work on my laptop of the two games I played in. I wanted to do some homework on that.
"I did as much training as I could. The Cowboys gave us weights and stretch bands to take home. I'd go down to a park in the early morning to do fitness drills and sprints to keep my legs moving.
"We couldn't do much together. I couldn't have anyone putting bombs up for me so I'd do it myself and chase them."
The Cowboys were delivered a mostly favourable draw following the shortening of the season to 20 rounds.
The only top eight teams from last season that the Cowboys have to face twice are the Sharks and Broncos, who finished seventh and eighth respectively in 2019.
The toll of same day travel from Townsville will be eased by mostly late afternoon and night games, and the Cowboys will face both of last year's grand finalists, the Roosters and Raiders, at home in Townsville.
After losing the season-opener against Brisbane at the new QCB Stadium in Townsville, Holmes said the Cowboys wanted to restart the season well.
"We wanted to win that first game, our new stadium and my club debut. I'm annoyed we didn't win that," he said.
"It wasn't the best start I wanted.
"I've got to do what I can to fit in well with this team. I've got to work on how I play and my combinations with my edges.
"I don't want to change the way anyone plays. I need to adapt to the way this team plays.
"I'm sure those relationships with the rest of the boys will come over the next few weeks."
The Cowboys have received solid free-to-air exposure with another six matches on Channel 9.
They will finish the 2020 regular season with a blockbuster Queensland derby against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Originally published as Holmes' lockdown homework for Titans clash