Former Rugby League player to make NFL debut

Former NRL and Australia star Valentine Holmes is set to make his American Football debut this Thursday.

The 24-year-old was picked up by the New York Jets after leaving Cronulla Sharks to pursue his NFL dream in November and is due to feature in their first pre-season game against cross-city rivals the New York Giants.

He has been training as a running back with the Jets for almost four months now and is still in the process of adapting to his new surroundings.

“It’s quite hot wearing all of the pads and the helmets compared to what I’m used to playing in, but it is going good,” he said.

“I’m really enjoying it. It’s totally different. It’s like learning a new language.”

The Jets currently have around 90 players on their roster but that will be cut to just 53 before the start of the NFL season next month.

His ‘novice’ status means Holmes isn’t expected to make that 53-man side, however, as a participant in the NFL’s International Pathway program, he is guaranteed a place in the practice squad.

That gives him a few months to work on impressing the coaches, with his first chance coming in this week’s pre-season game.

He took part in the team scrimmage earlier this week – the NFL equivalent of the captain’s run – and was given somewhat of a baptism of fire that included being on the end of a huge hit from 107kg linebacker Neville Hewitt.

The demanding start hasn’t dampened his spirits, though. If anything, it just whet his appetite even more.

“I mean, you can’t really see the hits coming in the sport but in rugby league you can kind of see who’s coming at you, who is trying to tackle you so you can kind of evade them,” he continued.

“There was one big hit I got today where I just turned up the field and I got kind of cleaned out, but that’s the sport.

“You just get back up, get back out there and keep going.

“That was my first scrimmage against kind of a real-life situation type thing, so I’m just trying to take it day-by-day and impress the coaches and try and learn what I can do.

“I’d like to make the 53 or even the practice squad, but we’ll see how we go.”