Sharks release NRL star Valentine Holmes to pursue NFL dream

Valentine Holmes of the Sharks runs with the ball during the NRL Qualifying Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the Cronulla Sharks at Allianz Stadium. Source: Getty

(TVNZ) – Cronulla have granted Valentine Holmes a release from his NRL contract so the representative ace can pursue a career in the NFL.

The Sharks released a statement today saying under the terms of the release Holmes will not be permitted to play for any other NRL club in 2019 should his American plans not work out.

Holmes has just returned from a holiday in the US where he is said to have viewed an NFL franchise in the hope of following in the footsteps of Jarryd Hayne, who earned a contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2015.

“This news brings great disappointment to the Cronulla Sharks, who have worked hard to re-sign Holmes to a five-year extension, which would have made him the highest-paid player in the club’s history,” the Sharks said.

“While this is in no way the outcome the club planned for, there was no option but to grant a release to Holmes.

“Under the terms of the release, if Holmes is unsuccessful in the NFL and wants to return to the NRL in 2019, it will be with the Cronulla Sharks only – Valentine will not be eligible to play for any other NRL club during 2019.”

Holmes acknowledged the Sharks’ understanding and support of his decision, while confirming he would enter fresh discussions with the club about his rugby league career if his American dream doesn’t pan out.

“I will be forever grateful to the Cronulla Sharks Football Club and the Sharks fans for the past five years of support,” he said.

“It was a special moment we all shared winning the club’s first ever NRL premiership (in 2016).”

Grand final-winning former teammate Luke Lewis is backing Holmes to make a successful transition to American football.

While Holmes is yet to field any formal offers in the US, Lewis believes if anyone is capable of pulling off such an audacious move, it’s the record-setting Kangaroos flyer.

“One thing with Val is he’s a very lucky young kid. He’s got the world at his feet to be honest,” Lewis told the Macquarie Sports Radio breakfast show.

“He loves his NFL and, if an opportunity like that comes up, you’d be mad to turn your back on it.

“I think it’s definitely on the cards. I just don’t know how he’s going to turn his back on nearly $1 million (NZD $1,065,450) a year.

“But if that’s what he wants to do, if anyone can do it, it’s definitely Valentine.”

Former South Sydney junior Jordan Mailata, drafted this year by the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, also believes Holmes can “definitely” make the sporting switch.

“He’s a worthy athlete,” Mailata said.

Lewis also suspects Holmes could prove somewhat of a trail blazer if he can successfully carve out an NFL career.

“I think if he does make it we’ll see a lot of other guys put their hands up and want to go over as well,” he said.

“(It’s a) perfect opportunity, perfect timing for Valentine to go over and do what he wants to do and, if it doesn’t work out, he can come back and still earn the money he wants to earn.”

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