Valentine Holmes has hinted at a return to the NRL if his NFL bid falls flat. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia
Valentine Holmes has hinted at a return to the NRL if his NFL bid falls flat. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia

Valentine Holmes considers NRL return

RUGBY league superstar Valentine Holmes is considering a return to the NRL next year if he can't fulfil his American football ambitions with the New York Jets in the next few weeks.

While he says his number one aim remains to make the final team cut of 53 players with the Jets in pre-season matches starting this week, rugby league remains close to his heart.

Asked by News Corp Australia whether a return to the NRL was still a possibility for 2020, he replied: "Yeah. Well, that's what I know best. I've been playing rugby league since I was a kid.

Holmes is keen to land a spot on the Jets' roster. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia
Holmes is keen to land a spot on the Jets' roster. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia

"This (making the Jets' final squad) is definitely what I'm here to do and trying to make but if all things go downhill and not for me, I guess I could always go back," he said.

"It (rugby league) is something I love playing and something I could easily move back into, I guess.

"If I don't make it, I don't know what really happens. I don't know how it all works out, it's my first time so if I get cut, you either get picked up (by another NFL team) or you're done.

"But I'm not worrying about it, I'm just trying to be where my feet are at and take each day and still enjoy it while I'm here because everyone knows it is a very cut-throat business here.

"A lot could happen tomorrow so I'm just trying to enjoy myself, you don't know what could happen next year, you don't know what could happen in a couple of weeks' time."

The Jets’ $100 million training facility, which features three outdoor training fields. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia
The Jets’ $100 million training facility, which features three outdoor training fields. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia

Holmes, who is in the States without his family, is a $1 million-plus player in the NRL. But if he misses the cut at the Jets and stays in the States on their practice squad, he'll be paid about $190,000.

While he has been linked to the North Queensland Cowboys, Holmes says his former team Cronulla Sharks definitely remain a positive option for him. Indeed, he talks to his old Sharks teammates almost every day.

"It's good to get all that support from my mates, especially from the Sharks, a lot of the boys always ask how I'm going."

Holmes has mentioned the Sharks as a possible destination. Picture: Brett Costello
Holmes has mentioned the Sharks as a possible destination. Picture: Brett Costello

But he said he would have to work hard to get back into the Sharks team.

"I know they've got a really good team there at the moment and they've got some young guys coming up so it might be kinda hard to get back in there. But it all depends on how everything goes here and we'll weigh everything else up later."

Holmes is currently in the middle of a gruelling 14-hour-a-day training camp with 89 fellow aspirants at the Jets' incredible $100 million Atlantic Health training centre in New Jersey which features three immaculate outdoor training fields plus a fullsize indoor field for when the weather is bad.

Jets coach Adam Gase said Holmes has been showing glimpses of form. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia
Jets coach Adam Gase said Holmes has been showing glimpses of form. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia

Holmes has impressed everyone at the Jets with his attitude, none more so than Head Coach Adam Gase, who said Holmes was showing glimpses of form after starting camp with a sore back.

"He made a nice play today. He looks to me like he's feeling better, you know. Starting off with a back problem kinda slowed him up at the beginning of camp," Gase said during yesterday's session ahead of their first official practice game against New York rivals, the Giants, on Thursday.

"He's picking up the offence, that hasn't really been his issue. When everything starts moving super fast, he's trying to get used to that, and I think it's starting to work for him.

"The speed of the game is slowing down for him and you know, it just keeps slowing down.

"You know, I'm excited to get to see him play in some games and just kinda see how he reacts to all that."

Holmes is expected to get his chance in a pre-season game against the Giants. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia
Holmes is expected to get his chance in a pre-season game against the Giants. Picture: James Keivom for News Corp Australia

Veteran sports journalist Brian Costello, who has covered The Jets for the New York Post for a decade, told News Corp Australia that it was "really hard" for a newcomer to the NFL to make the cut for the squad of 53.

"For Valentine coming in here having just learned the game in January, this is really, really hard," Costello said.

"He's clearly athletic, you can see on the field his athleticism. I think the hardest part is just learning the game. They have a huge playbook and they have to learn all these plays. I think that is the biggest difference for him from rugby league where he could rely on his instincts a little more.

"Here, he has got to kind of follow the script. I think he's learning that."

News Corp Australia


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