Cronulla have released Valentine Holmes with immediate effect so he can pursue a career in the NFL – but he will return to the Sharks if he comes back to rugby league.
The Sharks were keen to re-sign Holmes to a five-year contract extension, which would have made him the highest paid player in the club’s history.
Under the terms of the release, if the Australia international is unsuccessful in the NFL and wants to return to the NRL in 2019, it will be with Cronulla only. He will not be eligible to play for any other NRL club during 2019.
On his decision to join the NFL, Holmes commented: “I will be forever grateful to the Cronulla Sharks football club and the Sharks fans for the past 5 years of support, it was a special moment we all shared in winning the club’s first ever NRL Premiership.
“I understand this decision may come as a shock to many but I personally believe it’s the right time for me to challenge myself and pursue this NFL opportunity.
“Hopefully the fans can understand and support me as they have done throughout my career.”
Cronulla’s chief executive Barry Russell added: “While disappointed by Val’s decision, I acknowledge he has been outstanding for our club and for the game of Rugby League.
“He is loved by our club, corporate partners, members and fans.
“We are incredibly saddened to see him leave our club and exit the game of rugby league, however we wish him all the best in pursuing his NFL career and hope one day he may again wear the Sharks colours.”