Valentine Holmes might be the World Cup’s leading try scorer on the wing for Australia, however, his NRL club is adamant that there’s no positional switch on the cards.
The talented speedster is set to remain in the fullback position next season, says Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan.
“The speculation about Val comes because of how good he plays on the wing, not how poorly he plays at fullback,” Flanagan said.
Holmes’ ball-playing ability has been questioned since he shifted positions, with many suggesting that he belongs on the wing after remarkably crossing the line on twelve occasions for Australia.
“I didn’t speak to him until he finished but he knows where he stands,” Flanagan said. “It’s not a case of him deserving to be fullback because he’s our incumbent.
“No one deserves a spot, they earn it. But I just wanted to put his mind at rest. I wasn’t disappointed with the way he played last year. I wasn’t looking to replace him or anything like that.
“Everyone gets excited and thinks if I put him on the wing he’ll score 19 tries again. That mightn’t be the case either.
“Val was spoon-fed a lot of those (12) tries for Australia in the World Cup – from Billy (Slater) and (Michael) Morgan and Duges (Dugan). That was a little like in 2016 when he had Jack Bird inside of him and also Barba feeding him.
“He is a finisher, a dead-set finisher. But he’s a good fullback as well. We’ve got to give him time at fullback.”
Flanagan believes most rookie wingers are nurtured into the fullback position as their career wears on, apart from Dugan who made his debut at the back for Canberra.
“Duges is probably an exception but I think Darius Boyd has got better with age and developed as a fullback after starting on the wing,” Flanagan said. “I had a bit to do with Mini (Anthony Minichiello) when I was at the Roosters and he started on the wing and developed into a fullback.
“So we’re not rushing Val and we’re not saying he’s not a fullback. We just to make sure we’re putting out the best team each week. Remember Matty Moylan is also a fullback so it’s a good problem to have.”