Nostalgic drives past his former primary school are a sign Valentine Holmes is relishing his return home, with the North Queensland fullback confident such comforts will only help his transition back into the NRL.
The former Cronulla flyer has returned to rugby league after a year away and a missed shot at a roster spot with the New York Jets in the NFL.
Yet it's also a return to the town he grew up in for the 24-year-old, who will wear the No.1 in Saturday's trial game against Melbourne. And he isn't taking that for granted.
"Just driving around and seeing the new buildings that are up or driving past my old primary school, seeing mum and dad more often (than when I lived in Sydney) and just soaking up that I'm back home," he said.
"Everyone always says as long as your outside life is good you should be able to perform well at work and I feel like if I get that right it'll go a long way this year."
Holmes enjoyed a cameo last weekend against Brisbane and hopes to play 80 minutes against the Storm in the team's final trial before round one at home against the Broncos on March 13.
Holmes' good mate and captain Michael Morgan, named at No.7 alongside five-eight hopeful Jake Clifford, will also get his first minutes this year after he was rested from the NRL Nines and last week's trial.
Holmes and Morgan's wives are sisters, with Morgan admitting they are making the most of his decision to return to the NRL via the Cowboys.
"I was talking to him non stop (while he lived in New York)," Morgan told AAP.
"I was hopeful it'd go well over there and he gave it a crack and don't think he did waste time, because he learnt a lot.
"But if it didn't work out I was making sure he knew it'd be a good idea to come home and he's got a very big role in our team now."
Morgan said midweek barbecues at home were common but that they steer clear of a hobby many other teammates have long enjoyed.
"He's got no idea when it comes to fishing, so golf is our go," Morgan said.
"Lifestyle-wise it makes sense in a lot of ways and you can see how well he's fitted into the team that he is happy.
"That natural instinct is still there and he's turning those half chances into chances ... he's an exciting player that we haven't had for a while."
Australian Associated Press