The sport of Gridiron is growing in Australia at an incredible rate.
For the upcoming 2019 season, there will be as many as eight Aussies trying to make a name for themselves in the greatest sport on earth. They are usually known for producing excellent punters like Darren Bennett, Mat McBriar and most recently Seahawks sensation Michael Dickson.
Of late, the talent pool is growing and now Australians are cheering on a new breed of NFL players.
Broncos DE Adam Gotsis, Eagles monster OT Jordan Mailata, one-time 49ers prospect Jarrad Hayne and now the newest recruit to the New York Jets roster, Valentine Holmes.
23-year-old Holmes played 105 Rugby League games for the Cronulla Sharks, scoring 66 tries (touchdowns) and won the 2016 premiership, their first in 49 years. He played 13 times for his country scoring 17 tries, including six in one game against Fiji in the World Cup Semi Final.
Holmes first visited the Los Angeles in 2016 for NFL tryout while on his off-season and reportedly received interest from 15 NFL teams. In November of last year, Holmes turned down more than a $1m per year to stay with the Sharks to try his hand at a sport he had never played.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Holmes was to join the Jets as part of the International Pathways Program. He will now compete for a spot on the 53-man roster for the 2019 season.
Here is a full player breakdown.
Weight: 200 lbs
The biggest strength he has is his will and drive to learn. This guy had never played the game before and is now on the cusp of joining a storied franchise after only 4 months of trying. Imagine what he can do with years of great coaching.
Holmes has spent much of his young life getting tackled by bigger and harder guys than he is and has never shied away from a challenge. Rugby League is a brutal game played by only the toughest of people.
He has incredible speed, change of direction and agility like no other. The confidence in his own talents is incredible. A side step that makes you look twice and a powerful runner of the ball, both of which will see him push hard for a spot on the Jets roster.
Spent a lot of time at Fullback (punt returner) in Australia and is confident under the high ball.
He runs too upright, makes him a bigger target to hit. Needs to spend the next few months with a playbook in his hand constantly. He is coming into the game at the age of 23, where most players have been playing since Pee Wee football.
Depending on where he plays, he probably needs to add some mass to his frame.
Has a lot to learn in a short time.
Punt Returner – He is ready-made for this position, but this is not what he wants to be remembered for.
Running Back – This would be the ideal role for Holmes. With his speed and ability to make yards after contact, he would be a perfect RB with the right training.
Wide Receiver – Can catch a football, is quick, just needs to work on his route running and aggressiveness in contact. Unlikely.
Ran an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.50 while at the Scouting Combine in Florida earlier this month. Spent a lot of time under the high ball and looked confident.
There is a lot to like about a guy who is willing to leave a sport he is dominating and earning a lot of money to chase a dream to play in the NFL.
From what we have seen since November, he has a future in the game we all love.
For all the news on Valentine Holmes, stay tuned