The exodus of Pacific Island players from Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos squad looks set to continue, with another star of the game weighing up their options and the possibility of representing the Cook Islands at the tournament.
Though Holmes was born in Townsville and has previously represented Australia at a World Cup, his father was born in New Zealand and his mother in the Cook Islands. Though the Kiwis status as a Tier 1 nation rules Holmes out of eligibility, he is still eligible to represent the Cook Islands.
“I’ve spoken to (coach) Tony Iro,” Holmes told the Townsville Bulletin.
“That was last year. The World Cup was supposed to be then but got cancelled because of Covid and we spoke about.
“I can play for Cook Islands and I can play for Australia as well, so I’ve got some decisions to make.”
Holmes’ uncertainty comes in response to Jarome Luai and Josh Papalii’s recent decisions to represent Samoa, as well as the previous decisions by Jason Taumalolo and a number of other stars to represent Tonga – a move that made the island nation competitive and give a significant boost to international rugby league.
“I love (the pride),” Holmes said.
“It’s awesome to see. We’ve seen what those guys have done for Tonga and the benchmark they set.
“They beat Australia a few years ago which was a massive achievement. A lot of Pacific Islanders have seen that.
“It’s good to see, they’re playing for their heritage, playing for their family and their culture. Hopefully there’s a good Cook Islands side there, too.”
Holmes admitted that while the World Cup is an exciting prospect to look forward to, the Cowboys’ fight for second-place is foremost in his mind.
“I haven’t made up my mind with where I want to go or play for. I’m playing for the Cowboys at the moment and that’s what I’m focused on.”
A number of high profile NRL stars have represented Cook Islands at international level, including Jordan Rapana, Esan Marters, Marata Niukore and Francis Molo. A number of other stars would also be eligible despite playing for other nations previously, including James Tamou.