Valentine Holmes showed why he’s Cronulla’s priority re-signing as he turned in a starring role to help the Sharks upset NRL champions Melbourne on their home turf.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan declared before the game that his club wouldn’t be chasing Ben Barba, who is reportedly returning to Australia next season after cutting his Super League stint short.
Flanagan said the Sharks were only focused on retaining current Queensland and Australia Test star Holmes, who showed why in their 17-13 win at AAMI Park.
He said that Holmes, who was squaring off against current Test custodian Billy Slater, was rightly playing with confidence.
The 23-year-old fullback scored a first half try and helped saved two of the Storm’s with some desperate goal-line defence to stop Joe Stimson and Curtis Scott.
Flanagan said while Holmes often received praise for his attack, his defence for the Sharks was equally as valuable.
“When you put a check-list of Valentine Holmes’ qualities it’s probably all offence and you don’t talk to much about his defence,” Flanagan said.
“He saved a try for us which was really important and we’ve been working hard in that area.
“Also some of those kicks, the catch on it was really important under a lot of pressure.”
Big centre Jesse Ramien was also in fine touch, topping the Sharks’ run metre count with 179 – while also making 10 tackles.
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen was delighted to get his team’s top four chances back on track after two consecutive losses.
They have three very winnable games against North Queensland, Newcastle and the Bulldogs before the play-offs.
“We want to get that top four – that’s our first goal,” Gallen said.
“We let ourselves down the last couple of weeks so we have to back up this performance for the rest of the year and if we do that I think we’ve proven we can compete with anyone.”