Photo: Getty Images
Cronulla star Valentine Holmes has declared himself fit to play his first match of the NRL season after completing a team training session on Tuesday.
Holmes picked up a hamstring injury in the club's first pre-season trial in February, but is set to be back for Sunday's derby against St George Illawarra.
"It feels really good. I did high speed running last Friday. The physios and trainers were happy about that and I trained full day today with the boys," Holmes told AAP on Tuesday.
Holmes' return is likely to cause a shuffle in the Sharks' line-up, with Jack Bird reverting to the centres despite a strong showing in last week's comprehensive win over Canberra.
Photo: Getty Images
Holmes, 21, had originally targeted a return for the Raiders game but even brushed travelling to the nation's capital to ensure he comes back at full strength.
"I wanted to get down there to Canberra, but I'm glad I didn't. We ended up winning and smashed them, so saved myself for an extra week," he said.
"I had to train the day after the game so I stayed up at home and got in early in the morning and did the high-speed stuff. I can't wait to get back into it."
Holmes' first appearance of the season is likely to coincide with the anticipated return of Melbourne veteran Billy Slater from a two-year absence with a shoulder injury.
The former Australian international was an idol of Holmes growing up, but admits he has spent most of his time studying tapes of incumbent Kangaroos No.1 Darius Boyd.
"Because Billy's missed out the last couple of years it's hard. As the years go on, there's more skilled players come along and different types of players," Holmes said.
"The fullbacks I've been watching have been Darius Boyd and Benny Barba. I like the way Boyd plays and defends. I want to try and base my game around Boyd."
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