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Valentine's top five Origin moments

The rumble of ‘Queenslander’ every time the Queensland Maroons run out is a rumble Maroons star Valentine Holmes says never gets old.

Holmes said being able to experience it was an absolute honour. And he has been lucky enough to experience it 16 times.

Holmes said donning maroon meant a lot because of the history of the Maroons and those who had come before him, the dreams he had as a child and being able to represent every Queenslander who was passionate about rugby league and the Maroons.

“It means a lot,” Holmes said.

“It means a lot to me, it means a lot to those who have played in the past, it means a lot to the state of Queensland, and to all of the families and people who tune in and watch it, and those who want to play for Queensland.

“It means a lot to my family… born and raised in Townsville… so it’s always an honour to wear the Maroons jersey.”

Holmes said State of Origin as child was so memorable.

“Started off at school on a Wednesday… most of us went for Queensland but there was always one or two that barracked for New Wales… then we’d go home and get pizza or fish and chips, never have a home cooked meal…. we’d always get takeout and everyone would sit around the TV, fired up for 8pm kick-off.

“Listening to the pre-talks, I think it was Gus Gould then, I’d get goosebumps… the picture myself in the moments watching JT, Billy Slater running around.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to do it now.”

Holmes said it was special to be the JT or Billy Slater for children watching at home now, noting the entire squad at the moment were worthy of being looked up to.

“It’s so special… I’ve got a son of my own now and he really loves footy, loves golf, loves sport. Whether he follows in my footsteps, it’s nice he can look up to me in some way.

“I didn’t really have that in my household… my dad didn’t play, or my older brothers, so I looked up to other players like Billy Slater and Matty Bowen, the guys from the Townsville area."

Valentine’s top five Origin moments

1. Slater’s chip-and-chase

"I can’t go past when Darren Lockyer put the little grubber kick in for Billy and he scooped it up and chip and chased it over Minichiello and scored. It was in one of his first few games. That really stuck out for me. That was a really cool moment."

6 - Slater's try lights up the cauldron

2. JT’s last game in 2017

"JT’s last game in 2017 was my debut game… Game II in Sydney. Him kicking the conversion for our third try, which we ended up winning from that, in a pretty epic game where we were losing at half-time. We came back and got the job done and went on to Game III. Once he kicked it, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I just knew we were going to win. There was still a few minutes left on the clock but I was just so happy. Was looking forward to the game being over to celebrate, knowing we had the chance to take it home and get another win. Once he kicked it, I felt like it was meant to be."

9 - JT's clutch conversion

3. Lockyer try under the posts 

"Another one with Locky. When there was a pass from hooker and it bounced and he scooped up on it and then he was under the posts. It just shows the kind of player he is… he probably could’ve easily let that go and they couldn’t dove on it. He just showed, which is something we talk about now, is to never stop moving until we get the ball. He competed harder than them, scooped up the ball and managed to get to the try line. Then I remember everyone just jumping all over him and I think he actually got hurt because I think someone hit him in the jaw… but you just see how much passion and how much they really love playing alongside each other, playing for state, playing for the jersey.  That stands out for me."

2 - Lockyer starts the streak

4. The 2022 series

"Number four is one I’ve been involved in. In 2022 we had a pretty cool series… it was really good, a really good year. Our last game at home at Suncorp, the way we started from the kick-off, we almost sprinted down there and belted whoever ran it. From there, it set the tone. Patty Carrigan put some shots on, I just felt like we kept moving forward and forward and ran away with it. 2022 series was a special one."

Behind-the-scenes: 'One of the most remarkable games'

5. The 2020 Origin series

"The 2020 series when we got rated the worst ever team. I think it goes to show, it’s a proven fact that no matter who wears this jersey, we still play for each other, play for the state, play for our families. On paper, I can’t fault us because we won, we got the job done, but everyone was saying on paper we weren’t the best side out there and the Blues should’ve beaten us three-nil. We did what we did and after they quoted we were the worst team ever, it was cool to see Chez quote that at the end of the day holding the shield up. Really giving it back to everyone."

Match highlights: Maroons defy odds to win series

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Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.