I'M NO.1: Valentine Holmes in action for Australia.
I'M NO.1: Valentine Holmes in action for Australia. Grant Trouville

Lay off my No.1 Sharks jersey, Holmes tells Dugan

VALENTINE Holmes has warned his future Cronulla teammate Josh Dugan hands off his No. 1 jersey as the pair prepare to form an early combination on the same side of the field for the Kangaroos.

Holmes has entrenched himself as Cronulla's first choice fullback after taking over from Ben Barba this year. And despite the arrival of Dugan at the club next year, Holmes said he was "confident" that he will again line-up at the back for the Sharks.

"I haven't mentioned anything to him," Holmes said. "He knows I want it. I re-signed for it.

"We haven't spoken about club land at the moment. It's off-season. We're playing for Australia now, we just have to worry about that."

Holmes, who re-signed with the Sharks until the end of 2019, said he did not broach the subject with coach Shane Flanagan during contract discussions.

"Nah I didn't really, it didn't cross my mind that I wouldn't get the spot," Holmes said. "He's been playing centre for Dragons, he plays centre for Origin, he plays centre for Australia so it doesn't worry me."

They duo may give Cronulla fans a tease of next season as they prepare to play alongside each other for the Kangaroos. Dugan is expected to start at left centre while Holmes said he could play left or right wing for the Kangaroos.

"I've played both," Holmes said. "It would be good to start (a combination) now. If I do play fullback or on the wing outside him. I'm sure he can create something for me and I can do the same for him."

While Holmes has no intention of giving up his No. 1 spot for the Sharks, he is happy to step aside for Melbourne fullback Billy Slater.

Slater was rested from Australia's trial against PNG and Fiji with Holmes starting at fullback. Holmes starred in the opening 40 minutes before switching to the wing.

The 22-year-old said he was ready to play the role should injury hit Slater.

"It was a surprise to me to be named there," Holmes said. "It gave me a bit of confidence knowing (Mal Meninga) can rely on me there.

"There is a bigger stake (playing fullback). With bigger games it makes my job easier. We've got a great team. They make your job easier. It will be a challenge but I'll have to take it

"I've got a bit more to learn and improve on. This was my first year, I thought I went all right."