News has broken that Sharks, Maroons and Kangaroos superstar Valentine Holmes is set to turn his back on both his current club and a return home to Townsville in order to chase an NFL dream.
The Sharks premiership winner joined the likes of Kalyn Ponga and Tommy Turbo in 2018 in becoming one of the game’s best, young fullbacks.
It was expected that he would return home from an end of year holiday on Sunday to tell the Sharks that he had accepted a huge offer to move back home to Townsville where he would join the Cowboys from 2020 onward.
The Sharks were expected to throw one last, and large, offer to Val and his manager in hopes they could swap their star number one’s decision in the final moments.
As is becoming the theme in the 2018 NRL off-season, nothing is going as expected.
Holmes is set to walk out on the club, and the code, to chase a possible life in the National Football League (NFL) in America.
The obvious comparisons to Jarryd Hayne have been made, but in real terms the young superstar is taking a far bigger risk than his Eels counterpart.
Hayne had already achieved, and had earned, plenty. He was a Dally M medalist and had years of rep footy under his belt, and in his bank account.
Holmes is set to turn his back on a $1+ a season for at least the next ten years for what amounts to a one in a million shot.
Young Val is a superstar. A freakish talent with all the skills required to succeed in any athletic game, but he has zero experience in the NFL as opposed to similar-aged prospects with literal years in the juniors, school and college game.
As a Sharks fan I honestly don’t know what to make of this breaking news. I guess I’m still processing, but the reality is there is very little the club can do to ensure their star returns to pre-season training if his mind is made up.
His NRL contract will stop him from walking out on the club to join a rival in the same code, but unless they chain their flyer to the goal posts at Southern Cross Group Stadium, he’s going to board a plane if he really wants.
The club will likely insist that he fulfills his 2019 contract. They would be absolutely crazy to act otherwise.
Allow Holmes extra leeway to train and learn the game if it means he’ll be around to spearhead the title charge in 2019.
But what is stopping Holmes from simply walking away?
Personally I wish Holmes all the best. He owes us nothing. He delivered a Premiership to the club in a sublime 2016 season on the wing. He was incredible at the back end of 2018 at fullback.
Truth be told I’d have been fighting back the tears seeing him line up for the Cowboys in 2020. Might as well be the Dallas Cowboys.
The Sharks will no doubt speak to Holmes but will likely be broken hearted at his response.
By all reports he’s going to leave the club, whether that be at the end of 2019, or before the turn of the year.
I admire Holmes for taking a punt. Let’s really emphasise here that is exactly what this is.
In rugby league he’s a genuine superstar. He would walk into NRL side in the competition.
He would feature at fullback or on the wing in literally any 13 you could put together.
He’s a million dollar (at least) player a season with ten years left in his career, minimum.
He’s a smart kid, humble and he has the look. Perfect for a role in the media post footy.
He moves to the States he becomes a very small fish in a massive, MASSIVE pond.
You HAVE to admire that.
Let’s not forget that Hayne, a far bigger star and a more established superstar, fought his way to the most unlikely of NFL starts with the 49ers. He even debuted in the big leagues despite being given next to no chance.
He was then dropped, cut and forced to re package himself before he could return to the NRL. It took him over a season to return to form.
Let’s not forget that Hayne was far better built for a running back position that Holmes would be.
As quick as Holmes is, he’s far smaller and not as quick as the best wide receivers in the league.
He also has zero experience at any level.
HUGE risk, good on him, but either way, I can’t see anything but Holmes lining up for the Cowboys in 2020 … the North Queensland Cowboys.