Valentine Holmes claims North Queensland have shown they have the ability to win the grand final after riding the high of his Saturday night heroics.
His extra-time golden-point field goal against Cronulla has handed the Cowboys their first home preliminary final in the club’s history, and ensures their hopes of a fourth grand final in the club’s history skyrocket.
North Queensland will now avoid having to travel again until before the decider, with the club also never beaten in any of the seven home finals matches played in Townsville.
Even through the club’s hard years they have proven hard to beat in the far north Queensland heat, holding a remarkable 18-3 record in all matches played there in September.
And if there was any question over whether the Cowboys could win the big moments in big games, Holmes said they were now answered with the qualifying-final win.
“We’ve just seen tonight (we can win the premiership),” Holmes said after Saturday night’s victory.
“I know it’s only the first week of finals, but that right there was the definition of almost a grand final game.
“It literally had everything. It was very physical from literally from the kick off, it had good tries, good players.
“It was very scrappy, very good defensively. Big shots. And then obviously it literally came down to the last golden point and that’s what finals are about.”
The centre’s comments come after coach Todd Payten claimed he was already convinced the Cowboys could win the title, well before the win at PointsBet Stadium.
The coach pointed to the belief of his players to regularly come from behind as the biggest reason for that, also claiming that the Cowboys’ attack differed to most other teams.
Holmes also believed representative experience would help come the preliminary final, and the decider if they win through, after five Cowboys made their debut for Queensland this year.
“That really helped for this occasion (against the Sharks),” Holmes said.
“Half these guys haven’t even played in a finals game because they’re all maybe 21 or 20.
“So they’ve definitely had a taste of it and they’ve had a taste of Origin at that level.”
Meanwhile Holmes revealed his tactics behind the 93rd-minute field goal, barking orders at his forwards to position him for the match winner after missing three field-goal shots from the same distance in warm-up.
“I just wanted Reubs (Cotter) and Jason (Taumalolo) to get the last two carries,” Holmes said.
“I knew they would get the most ruck speed and play-the-balls for us. They both got like 15 metres each. That’s all I needed.
“I just needed to be over the halfway, around the 40 and they gave me the best opportunity to kick it.
“That’s my job to do that. It’s what we practice for, Chaddy (Townsend) and I to pull off in a game like this, in that situation. It’s unreal.”