NRL Rd 3 - Cowboys v Titans
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: Valentine Holmes of the Cowboys passes the ball during the round three NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Gold Coast Titans at QCB Stadium on May 29, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

North Queensland back Valentine Holmes is set to predominately feature as a centre under coach Todd Payten in 2022.

Having commonly starred for the Cowboys in the No.1 jumper or on the wing, Holmes has been a serviceable asset to the Townsville club since joining ahead of the 2020 season.

After featuring as a centre at the conclusion of last year, Holmes held discussions with Payten in how to best shape their youthful core and keep the 26-year-old at the top of his game.

With Origin-calibre flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow seen as the incumbent fullback for the Cowboys, coupled with Peta Hiku's arrival from the Warriors, Holmes is set to shift from right centre to the left edge.

"I played right centre at the end of last year, then I had a chat to Toddy at the end of the year in our season review and he wanted to see me at left centre," Holmes told NRL.com.

"Obviously they brought Peta Hiku in; I'm really enjoying it.

"I haven't played any first grade centre beside the end of last year and I'm really enjoying it. It's different defending in the line next to your half but I'm really enjoying it."

"'Hammer' is going really well; he's young, quick, athletic, a good skilful player."

While Holmes won't be pulling on the fullback jumper as often, the North Queensland native will be given a license to roam the back of Payten's structure to keep him in the game throughout the course of the 80 minutes.

A role touted as one similar to Manly superstar Tom Trbojevic's in New South Wales' Origin setup, Holmes is hoping the freedom will pay dividends.

"He's given me the key to pass, to roam around the field when the ball goes away from my edge, kind of sniff around, try and get back out on my side and try and be ready to play footy at all times," Holmes added.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 27: Tom Trbojevic of the Blues makes a break during game two of the 2021 State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on June 27, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

"I think Tommy did a pretty good job showing what he can do, he plays fullback for his club, centre for Origin and he was their best player on the field in Origin playing centre. It's more following the ball and always being ready."

Across Holmes' five matches named as either a centre or winger in 2021, the Australian representative scored just the one try and landed a further two assists, with the Cowboys going 1-4 across those spells.

With Payten set for another campaign of great focus on youth and development, North Queensland are likely to remain toward the foot of the NRL ladder this year.

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Having amassed a 7-17 record and a 15th place finish for their efforts last season, there is optimism for improvement looking toward the year ahead.

The Cowboys are set to face the Rabbitohs and Broncos as part of their pre-season fixture next month, before hosting Canterbury at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Sunday, March 13 to open their 2022 NRL premiership campaign..

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