After dominating as a rugby star in Australia, Valentine Holmes is taking on a new challenge in the NFL with the New York Jets.
Before he was lacing up his cleats in Florham Park as a member of the Jets, Valentine Holmes was scoring at a LaDanian Tomlinson pace for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.
Despite being at the pinnacle of sport in his native country, Holmes felt the urge to push himself even further.
That brought him to the NFL, via the league’s International Player Pathway Program, trading his Sharks Black & Blue for the Gang Green.
His move is already providing memorable moments, even before he sets foot on the field for an NFL game (via ESPN’s Rich Cimini):
To wear the full suit — the tight pants, the jersey, the pads and the helmet — it was pretty cool. To see my name on the back of a New York Jets jersey, that was pretty cool, too. It’s something I’ll hold close.
Many of his fans in Australia were understandably puzzled by his decision to trade stardom on the rugby pitch for the chance to make an NFL roster in The Big Apple, but Holmes is ready for a new and unique challenge:
I feel like I want to challenge myself as a person and as a player and as an athlete. There’s no better way than to compete over here in America in the NFL. It’s the pinnacle of sport in America. I’ve always been watching it since I’ve been in high school. The opportunity arose for me and I was toward the end of a contract at that time, and I kind of fell into it. There were a couple of clubs that were keen on me and wanted to get me over for a tryout.
With training camp right around the corner, Jets fans will soon get their first look at a player who could end up being a steal if he can have a similar impact on the gridiron that he enjoyed in his previous sport.
That’s certainly a tall task, but one Holmes is absolutely ready to take on. If he’s even half the player he’s been in the rugby world, he’ll be a huge steal for the Jets.