Former NRL star Valentine Holmes speaks to media at the NFL combine tryouts.
Former NRL star Valentine Holmes speaks to media at the NFL combine tryouts.

Val Holmes issued with dire NFL warning

The first Australian to ever be a success in the NFL, Colin Scotts, has backed Valentine Holmes to star but he's also issued the former NRL star with a stark warning.

"He has got a lot to learn - he doesn't know what a concussion is yet, trust me" Scotts told Mark Geyer on Triple M.

That warning comes in a week where Western Bulldogs AFL hardman Liam Picken retired as a result of post-concussion issues and the subject again came to the fore in local media.

The statistics on concussions for NFL players are dire and in 2017 there were 291 concussions recorded and the history of players developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is disturbing.

Still, former Cronulla and Queensland flyer Holmes is pursuing his career hard and fast and impressed at the NFL Pro Day in Tampa, where NFL scouts liked his speed and versatility, not to mention a 4.45 second 40-yard dash.

In producing that time Holmes had taken .2 seconds off his previous best and Scotts was impressed, suggesting Holmes could do even better than fellow convert Jarryd Hayne - if he does things the right way and focuses on learning the game before targeting playing as a running back.

"I just watched the footage, it's very impressive," Scotts said.

"He did a 4.45 - what's great news is he did a 4.6 about a month-and-a-half ago, so that's' massive but being honest there are a lot of guys that can do 4.45 over in America.

"Still, I'm backing him."

And the reason Scotts is backing Holmes to make his dream come true is that Scotts sees him working a whole lot harder than Jarryd Hayne did during his time at the San Francisco 49ers.

Jarryd Hayne in his time playing for San Francisco.
Jarryd Hayne in his time playing for San Francisco.

"I'll be deadly honest, he's going to have a better work ethic and I'm not having a go at Haynesy but he's wasn't the highest performance training guy," he said.

"Holmesy is committed 100 per cent and his mental edge, his application and his obsession is going to help him."

And while that desire may help Holmes succeed, Scotts, who played for the St Louis Cardinals in the 1980s, says that the 23-year-old probably needs to park some of his ambition early on as he is still learning the game.

And that if he does so he will have learned from one of the mistakes Hayne made.

"What I really want to talk about is running back and wide receiver," Scotts said.

"What he should be doing is special teams, which is what Jarryd did, you can make a real good living out of special teams, kick off, tackle the opposition or return the kick.

"What's more natural to a rugby league guy than kick off?

Former Australian NFL player Colin Scotts will donate his brain to the NFL brain bank when he dies so they can test it for CTE.
Former Australian NFL player Colin Scotts will donate his brain to the NFL brain bank when he dies so they can test it for CTE.

"He (Holmes) could be a great punt returner.

"Jarryd (Hayne) should have stayed on special teams, but no, he wanted to be a running back which is the most complicated position in the NFL"

"I reckon for Holmesy to make it, just tackle guys at kick off and be a punt returner."

That might not be what Holmes wants to hear given his oft-stated desire to be a wide receiver but there was some good news for him from all of what Scotts said.

When asked if he thought Holmes would play NFL football, Scotts was adamant.

"He won't next year but he will be on one of the training squads and a team will give him a chance."