‘Huge risk’: Greenberg, Sharks react to Holmes’ switch
NRL boss Todd Greenberg has said he will not stand in the way of any player chasing their dreams, but the best athletes still play rugby league.
After the shock announcement that Cronulla, Queensland and Australia star Valentine Holmes has walked away from the game to chase an NFL dream, Greenberg said the NRL are not worried about an exodus.
Greenberg said Holmes was taking a risk to walk away from a lucrative contract to take a gamble on his ability.
"It's a significant risk for a young player, but I wouldn't stand in the way of someone to chase their dreams," Greenberg said.
"We've seen this happen before whether it's the NFL or rugby and quite often they've come back in a short space of time. It's not easy, and it comes with great risk.
"We don't want to make it easy for players to leave the code, but in saying that, if he wants to come back there's a conversation to be had."
The 23-year-old requested a release from the Sharks to pursue a potential NFL career just days after returning from a trip to the United States, where he is believed to have undergone fitness testing.
Sharks teammate and Cronulla co-captain Wade Graham said he was shocked to hear the news, although he understood Holmes had an interest in the sport.
The two are in an NFL fantasy league together with a few other current and past Sharks players, and Graham joked he could be drafting Holmes next season.
For what it's worth, Holmes is in the top four of their league.
Graham said the playing group had received a text from Holmes apologising for the way they learned the news through the media and in an ideal world he would have liked to tell them face-to-face.
However, Graham said he has nothing but respect for his now former teammate to make such a courageous call on his career.
"He's coming into what would have been his biggest deal, there was obviously the interest from North Queensland and Val's the type of player, he would have had 15 other clubs interested in his services," Graham said.
"It's a big challenge. He's obviously confident in his ability.
"If Val backs himself, I'm happy to support him. You can't help but respect someone who will get out of their comfort zone and will turn their back on a really lucrative deal and take a chance on such a big challenge. I have nothing but respect for him."
A current offer on the table from the Sharks would have made Holmes the richest player in the club's history.
Halfback Chad Townsend took to Twitter to wish Holmes well on his pursuit, while former teammate Edrick Lee said he was completely unaware of his interest in leaving the NRL.
However, despite Greenberg's insistence that there will be no exodus, Lee said Holmes' switch could open the door for future transfers.
"If he gives it a red hot crack I'm sure he will do well," Lee said.
"That's the first I've heard of Val looking to go the NFL, but with his skill set and running style and the way that he can control his body I think he would be a perfect fit.
"If he makes that decision to go it will be a great door to open for future NRL players to maybe give it a crack."