Valentine Holmes is reportedly set to quit the NRL to pursue an NFL dream.
Valentine Holmes is reportedly set to quit the NRL to pursue an NFL dream.

How Holmes’ shock code switch could reshape the NRL

Valentine Holmes' reported move to the NFL has the potential to drastically reshape the future of the NRL in a host of ways.

Holmes is an established representative star for the Maroons and the Kangaroos and was expected to join the Cowboys in 2020.

If Holmes does make the move to the NFL, it will have a big impact on the Sharks and the Cowboys, who will be scrambling to fill holes in their roster in 2019 and beyond.

The move would also have repercussions for the Maroons' State of Origin side and Mal Meninga's Kangaroos.



Can it happen?

Holmes still has a year to run on his current NRL deal, which finishes at the end of the 2019 season, so it remains to be seen if the Sharks will let him walk out the door.

"Sharks CEO Barry Russell will meet with Valentine Holmes and his management representatives in the coming days to discuss reports of his potential move to the USA and the NFL," Cronulla said on Monday in a statement.

Holmes has been over to the US and trialled with Jason Taumalolo, so there is no doubt he is on the radar in the States so he would have the connections to get another decent run at least.

However, Holmes is one of the best attacking weapons in the game his departure would be a huge blow to the game.

Whether the Sharks get some form of financial compensation remains to be seen, but they would be mad to let Holmes go for nothing.



Cronulla's Valentine Holmes. Picture: Brett Costello
Cronulla's Valentine Holmes. Picture: Brett Costello



What will the Sharks do for a fullback?

The Sharks were resigned to losing Holmes, who was believed to be heading home to the Cowboys to be closer to his family.

The general consensus was that Holmes would swap with Ben Barba, who is on a one-year deal with the Cowboys and would return to the Sharks who he won a premiership with in 2016.

However if Holmes goes to the NFL the Sharks may opt to up their pursuit of Rabbitohs fullback Alex Johnston.

Josh Dugan is also on their books, but Shane Flanagan believes his best position is in the centres as he enters the next phase of his career.

Matt Moylan could also easily switch to fullback with Kyle Flanagan coming up through the ranks as a playmaker.


Matt Moylan could return to fullback for the Sharks.
Matt Moylan could return to fullback for the Sharks.


What does it mean for Ben Barba?

North Queensland have only signed the livewire fullback for one season and it was widely expected that he could swap clubs with Holmes from 2020.

That could still happen if Holmes is unsuccessful at earning an NFL contract and returns to the NRL.

But should Holmes be successful and Barba continues his stellar form that saw him earn the 2018 Man of Steel, all signs point to a contract extension for the 2016 premiership winner.

Even if the Cowboys were to let him go, Barba would no doubt attract plenty of interest elsewhere - and he never ruled out making a return to England, either.



Does Holmes have the attributes to make it?

According to Holmes' Sharks profile, he stands at 185cm and weighs in at 90kg.

In the NRL, he's a transcendent athlete, but that all changes in the NFL.

If Holmes wants to slot in as a running back, he'll need to add some size - the best running backs in the game hover around 100kg - but his 40-yard dash time of 4.6 is already lacking, relative to most of that position in the NFL, so he'll need to pack on size while maintaining or improving his speed.

Holmes sizes up comparably to wide receivers, but is lacking from an athleticism standpoint, so there's a lot of work to do if he wants to reach the level, athletically, of an NFL player.


Valentine Holmes during an NFL trial in 2016. Pic Nathan Edwards
Valentine Holmes during an NFL trial in 2016. Pic Nathan Edwards


Will he succeed?


It's for those reasons why the answer to this question is a: probably not.

Holmes has autonomy over his decisions and can do what he likes, but the reality is, he'll have to put so much work into getting to a level of size and athleticism that his frame isn't used to, and that's notwithstanding the fact that he still needs to learn the game.

There's the obvious marketability of the 'Aussie' named Valentine who's doing his best to make it in the NFL, but is that worth it over a college player with similar or better physical attributes, but who has been playing and learning the game for a decade more?

The smart money is a no, but Jarryd Hayne wasn't supposed to make a 53-man roster and he ended up doing just that, so anything's possible.