Rugby

NRL star gives up rugby league for crack at NFL

2018-11-21 10:30
Valentine Holmes (Getty Images)
Valentine Holmes (Getty Images)

Sydney - Australian Valentine Holmes has walked out on a lucrative rugby league contract in a bid to make the grade in American football, following in the ill-fated footsteps of Jarryd Hayne.

The Cronulla Sharks star was on the verge of becoming the team's highest-paid player in a deal reportedly worth A$5 million, but has opted to give it away to pursue his dream.

"I am 100 percent committed to making the NFL. I wouldn't be risking everything if I didn't think I could make it," he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph on Wednesday.

The popular 23-year-old will leave for the US in January to train for nothing at the world-famous IMG Academy in Florida - home to the NFL's International Player Pathway Program.

"Obviously I love rugby league, the Sharks and all of its fans, but for me, this is more to do with the challenge of making it in the NFL," he said.

"People will say it can't be done but I'll believe in my ability and I am backing myself to play in the NFL," added Holmes, who is expected to try out for the positions of running back or wide receiver.

Transitioning to American football from rugby league is no easy feat.

The high-profile Hayne - who this week was charged with sexual assault in Australia - gave it a go in 2015.

He was selected for the San Francisco 49ers' final 53-man roster as a kick returner and running back, making his debut against Minnesota.

Hayne appeared in six games, carrying the ball eight times for 25 yards, making one catch for seven yards and returning eight punts for 76 yards, before being released.

The Cronulla Sharks reluctantly agreed to release Holmes on the condition that if he fails to secure a team, he must return the club.

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