Holmes missing NRL's Sharks but happy with NFL switch
Valentine Holmes says he will "miss" not featuring for Cronulla Sharks in 2019, but insists he is happy he will be learning how to play American football instead when the new NRL season begins.
The campaign begins next week and Holmes, whose 22-try haul in 2018 was bettered by only David Fusitu'a, will be on the other side of the world in Florida, relying on Twitter updates to see how the Sharks fare.
That is because the 23-year-old Australia international has elected to follow in the footsteps of Jarryd Hayne and Jordan Mailata and transfer from rugby league to the NFL.
Yet while that journey and the potential of a spot on one of the 32 NFL franchises' 53-man rosters excites Holmes, he concedes he still holds fond memories of his previous career.
"Of course you will always miss where you've been playing pretty much your whole life," Holmes told Omnisport.
"But I'm still happy with where I am at the moment.
Another chapter begins. pic.twitter.com/MhG6jwzypv— Valentine Holmes (@val_holmes1) January 24, 2019
"I haven't worked out how I'm going to watch the [NRL] games, I don't think I'll be able to watch it as you can only watch games in certain countries. I'll obviously keep an eye on the scores and follow how the Sharks are getting on on Twitter."
Holmes' exit has been just one story in the Sharks' wild offseason, with salary-cap breaches resulting in a fine and a penalty, and contributing to the departure of head coach Shane Flanagan and the upcoming exit of chief executive Barry Russell.
"There have not been good times at the club, but hopefully they'll overcome them," Holmes added.
"I saw they've got a new sponsor in and they've won their trial matches so that's good."
Holmes' trial is of a new sport, with the seed of a possible switch planted during a trip to Los Angeles in 2016, a year before he contributed a record 12 tries during Australia's victorious World Cup campaign.
The former Sharks full-back has been spending 12 hours a day learning the gridiron ropes, with much of that time dedicated to understanding playbooks, and he is likely still at least a year away from making an NFL team's active roster.
However, Holmes, who expects to be a running back in the NFL, insists he is at the right age to make such a transition and knows he could be a trailblazer for others in Australia and further afield.
"It's obviously a really tough sport to come into," Holmes admitted.
"It shows there is a pathway for that sport if you don't go to a college. It's good to show other guys around the world that there is a route for any international player.
"I had a year left on my [Sharks] contract and I'm happy I made this decision to come over and have a crack at this."