The Cowboys to sign Valentine Holmes over Latrell Mitchell.
The Cowboys to sign Valentine Holmes over Latrell Mitchell.

Cowboys win race for Holmes, snub Mitchell

Valentine Holmes has agreed to join the Cowboys in a multimillion-dollar move that is set to crush Latrell Mitchell's dreams of playing for North Queensland.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Holmes has decided he will be a Cowboy in 2020 and only an eleventh-hour change of heart will see the Queensland Origin star continue chasing his NFL dream in New York.

The Cowboys are treading carefully and have not ruled out making a play for Mitchell as the club sizes up fullback prospects for 2020 and beyond.

However, Holmes is planning to ink a multi-year deal worth about $1 million-a-season with the Cowboys, which would kill the possibility of Mitchell joining North Queensland.

 

Latrell Mitchell at the Watermark in Townsville. Photo: Evan Morgan
Latrell Mitchell at the Watermark in Townsville. Photo: Evan Morgan

 

Mitchell, 22, dined with key Cowboys officials in Townsville on Monday night as the disgruntled Rooster explores his NRL options.

But salary cap constraints are set to thwart any potential bid from North Queensland for the Kangaroos centre, who Wests Tigers are prepared to offer $4 million for four years to play fullback.

Mitchell has a genuine interest in playing for the Cowboys, but North Queensland cannot offer him the $1 million-a-season he is seeking given they already have Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo on big money contracts, and are expecting to sign Holmes.

 

Holmes is ready to return to the NRL. Photo: James Keivom
Holmes is ready to return to the NRL. Photo: James Keivom

 

Cowboys club legend Johnathan Thurston said it would be ideal for North Queensland to finalise their roster as soon as possible to begin preparations for 2020 after finishing 14th last season.

"It's a very complex situation," Thurston said.

"If Valentine's NFL dream keeps going then Latrell would be a handy addition for the Cowboys.

"If Latrell makes the decision to join the Cowboys, then I don't know where that leaves Val. If Latrell decides to move on to the Tigers, that leaves the door open for Val.

"They would both be new to the structures of the Cowboys and getting to learn those.

"While they are very smart footballers and would pick it up quickly, you need to spend some time with them to get to know those defensive and offensive structures.

"They're both great footballers and can win a game on their own. To have either of them at the club would be a handy addition. To have both of them really puts the Cowboys in premiership contention."

 

If only the Cowboys could sign both their dream targets … Photo: AAP Image/Darren England
If only the Cowboys could sign both their dream targets … Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

 

Mitchell and his agent Wayde Rushton met with Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini, coach Paul Green and football manager Peter Parr on Monday night in Townsville.

The Cowboys view Mitchell as a worthy marquee signing if the Holmes deal collapses, but are preparing to formally sign the ex-Maroons winger before Christmas.

Speaking at the launch of the You Can youth cancer centre in Brisbane on Tuesday, Thurston said the Cowboys would have been mad to not meet with Mitchell.

"When a player of his calibre comes up and wants to have a look at your facilities and club, there's no way you'd knock back that opportunity," he said.

"It's great to have him up there in Townsville looking at the facilities. Hopefully he can get a vibe of what north Queensland life is like.

"When someone of that calibre comes up, you show them around and hopefully he likes the joint and makes a decision to become a Cowboy.

"To have someone of his talent that wants to have a look at the club is a great opportunity for the Cowboys and hopefully we can get his signature."

 

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