The Cowboys can officially table an offer to Valentine Holmes from November 1. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)
The Cowboys can officially table an offer to Valentine Holmes from November 1. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Cowboys prepare bid to bring Val home

THE Cowboys will on Thursday launch one of the richest poaching raids in the club's history in an attempt to bring Queensland Origin star Valentine Holmes to Townsville.

North Queensland will begin negotiations with Cronulla flyer Holmes on a package worth up to $3.6 million as more than $20 million worth of talent hits the NRL open market.

An estimated 168 top-liners are up for grabs from Thursday with the NRL's annual November 1 contracting period giving off-contract NRL stars the chance to test their value on the open market.

Holmes is at the top of the hit-list, with the Cowboys now having the capacity under the NRL's guidelines to table a formal offer for the Townsville-born tryscoring machine.

The Cowboys have been linked with Holmes for the past six months. The Maroons ace is seriously considering quitting Cronulla, but has been unable to field a formal offer from the Cowboys until November 1.

Now North Queensland have the contractual green light to ramp-up their pursuit, with Cowboys head-of-football Peter Parr on Wednesday confirming the club will make a formal play for Holmes.

"We were waiting to see if Holmes was still available come November 1 and now that he is, we will have a discussion with his management," Parr said.

"We will certainly be making contact with his management, Chris and Gavin Orr, and we will see where it takes us.

Holmes was one of the form players of the NRL by the end of 2018. Picture: Brett Costello
Holmes was one of the form players of the NRL by the end of 2018. Picture: Brett Costello

"We haven't given much thought to what our offer would be, but now that Valentine is on the open market, I will have a discussion with 'Greeny' (Cowboys coach Paul Green)."

Parr would not be drawn on figures, but it is understood the Cowboys will consider offering a three-or-four year deal worth $900,000 a season.

The Sharks have tabled a mega five-year extension to Holmes worth more than $4 million, putting pressure on the Cowboys to table a long-term deal.

While Holmes is contracted to Cronulla until the end of 2020, he has a 12-month option in his favour, meaning he can field rival offers from Thursday.

Several Sydney clubs are also keen on Holmes, with some willing to break the bank to secure his services, but if he leaves the Sharks, a move to the Cowboys is likely due to family connections.

Cowboys head-of-football Peter Parr confirmed the club’s strong interest in Holmes. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Cowboys head-of-football Peter Parr confirmed the club’s strong interest in Holmes. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

In his Cronulla contract, Holmes has until next August to give the Sharks a definitive answer.

His manager confirmed the Cowboys are a genuine contender to win the Test winger's signature.

"There will be a lot of interest in Val and come November 1 we will be open to discussions with all those who wish to secure his services," PSM director Chris Orr said.

"It's been a great year for Val and he is currently overseas enjoying a break from rugby league, so we won't look to discuss his options until he returns.

"A lot has been said about the family attraction of the Cowboys for Val, which is true, but he has been at the Shire since he was 17, it's not like Val is unhappy at Cronulla.

The Queensland winger has strong family ties to Townsville. Pic Peter Wallis
The Queensland winger has strong family ties to Townsville. Pic Peter Wallis

"We regard Val as a franchise player. He is extremely marketable, so this should be considered by any club wishing to secure his services.

"He has the X-factor to attract sponsors and fans to the game each weekend."

Parr admits it will be an uphill battle to prise Holmes out of a Cronulla club with whom he won the 2016 premiership.

"Val has plenty of mates there and he has played some outstanding football at Cronulla," he said.

"In my experience, it's always hard to get good players to leave their incumbent club, especially if they are successful."

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