Valentine Holmes admits he was “a bit shocked’ not to be picked in Queensland’s series-opening State of Origin side last month.
But it doesn’t mean the Cronulla fullback believes he could have made the difference in their 28-4 loss to NSW last Wednesday, or that he’ll get a chance to make his mark in the second clash at ANZ Stadium.
Instead, he believes that honour will go to the man he is marking up against in Thursday’s grand final rematch with Melbourne: Billy Slater.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters admitted on Monday that Slater was back in the frame for selection, which would see Darius Boyd put back on the wing at the likely expense of Justin O’Neill in the centres.
Holmes said he was far more surprised by Slater’s omission than his own.
“I thought Billy Slater probably would have got on,” Holmes said.
“If I was in his shoes I would be a bit upset and a bit cut.
“He’s done very well for the Queensland jersey and he’s done awesome for Melbourne since he came back from injury.
“I’m sure he will be in the running for the next game … I’m sure he will be there.”
Thursday’s clash at Cronulla has been billed as a showdown between the two fullbacks as they bid to make their way into Queensland’s side.
There is, in fact, room for both of them if Dane Gagai or Corey Oates is cut, with the former a chance to move to the centres in place of the out-of-form O’Neill.
But Holmes doesn’t believe that even a game-breaking performance would get him selected in the Maroons squad.
“I honestly don’t think this game will make a decision on his selections,” he said.
“Corey Oates and Dane Gagai played very strong and I thought they were probably the best players in the team there.”
Holmes was the only Queensland member of Australia’s Anzac Test squad not to be picked for the Maroons.
However, the 21-year-old – who was banned from Origin last year for breaking a camp curfew – understood why Maroons selectors stayed loyal.
“I was obviously a bit shocked, but not disappointed,” he said.
“I know they did the job last year and they did it well and they won. I knew they wouldn’t change the team too much.”