The rugby league landscape has changed dramatically for Valentine Holmes, who dominated the game at fullback for Cronulla before his departure for a shot at NFL stardom.
Subsequent rule changes in the NRL have increased the speed of the game and the North Queensland fullback believes teams that play faster benefit from the ensuing fatigue heaped on their oppositions.
“If you’re getting all the speediness on your side and you’re scoring tries you love it,” Holmes said.
“But if you’re on the other end of it, which we have been, obviously it’s not nice and you get some points put on you pretty easily.
“It’s a lot faster, you get more fatigued and run more kilometres than usual.”
Holmes’ final year at Cronulla was one to remember, cementing himself among one of the NRL’s best as the Sharks were beaten in the preliminary final.
Holmes was Cronulla’s player’s player of the year in 2018, breaking the try-scoring record for the club with 22 while topping the NRL for line breaks (26) and kick return metres (1,494).
But it’s been a different story at the Cowboys.
Holmes struggled in his first year in Townsville and, with new rules still fresh, he said it’s been a challenge to regain his best.
“Definitely I’d like to get back to my 2018 form. That’d be nice,” he said.
“The game has just gone ridiculously fast, so I definitely feel it out there.
“I kind of blow a bit easier, but I’m trying to work on my fitness in training to try and keep up with the eight-ball.
“These (other) fullbacks out there are pretty fit these days, so I’m probably a bit behind.”
Holmes said while he wants to lock down the No.1 jersey, and avoid a return to the wing, he is more focused on the plan coach Todd Payten has for the struggling Cowboys.
“I would like to keep it but what he’s (Payten) is doing is good, he’s holding everyone accountable,” Holmes said.
“Everyone’s position isn’t theirs to keep, you have to earn it and play well for it and that’s holding us accountable.
“I’m not thinking that fullback is my position, I just want to win games and play good.”