The gun No.1 the Cowboys need to gamble on
The North Queensland Cowboys should only have one name on their list of potential replacements for Ben Barba - Valentine Holmes.
Cowboys coach Paul Green yesterday admitted he may go to the market to find a new No.1 for the upcoming NRL season following Barba's recent sacking.
The dismissal of Barba has thrown a spanner into Green's rebuilding plans after North Queensland failed to live up to premiership expectations last year.
The 2012 Dally M Medal champion was to be North Queensland's saviour at fullback in 2019.
With Johnathan Thurston retiring, the Cowboys needed a new x-factor in their backline, particularly after the horror show that was last year.
But Barba is gone and won't be coming back, leaving Green and the Cowboys with two options.
They can start hitting the phones and hope a rival club is willing to release a decent player on the verge of the season.
With the way the NRL's salary cap works, the Cowboys are a chance of snaring someone that could fill the hole given the money trouble clubs regularly find themselves in.
The Cowboys' other option is to keep their powder dry.
That is the route they should be taking in the hope Holmes returns to Australia soon.
The Queensland Origin and Kangaroos star is in the United States trying to make it big in the NFL.
Holmes, 23, is as adventurous as they come, giving up a lucrative contract at Cronulla as a player on the rise to have a crack at American football.
While Holmes succeeding in America would be a fairytale, the smart money is he won't.
Jarryd Hayne found out how difficult it is to become an NFL player when he made eight appearances for the San Francisco 49ers in 2015.
It was an incredible achievement by Hayne to make it that far, yet he never looked like being comfortable, let alone dominating, the game.
If the Holmes experiment fails, he could be back in Australia by April, just a few weeks into the NRL season.
As part of his release from Cronulla, the Sharks will get first dibs on signing Holmes when he returns.
However there is next to no chance of him remaining at Cronulla beyond this season given he was on the verge of committing to the Cowboys for 2020 before having a crack at the NFL.
The Sharks, who are facing salary cap pressure, could easily pass on Holmes, leaving the Cowboys perfectly positioned to pounce.
That is, of course, if they have the money to make it happen.
While Barba's departure was unexpected and not ideal for the Cowboys, there is a silver lining to the debacle.
Valentine will be on his way home to Townsville at some point and North Queensland could make it happen this year if they are willing to be patient.