Sharks statement: Valentine Holmes

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Valentine Holmes has today requested an immediate release from his contract to pursue an NFL career.

This news brings great disappointment to the Cronulla Sharks who have worked hard to re-sign Holmes to a five-year extension, which would have made him the highest paid player in the Club's history.

While this is in no way the outcome the Club planned for, there was no option but to grant a release to Holmes.

Under the terms of the release, if Holmes is unsuccessful in the NFL and wants to return to the NRL in 2019, it will be with the Cronulla Sharks only. Valentine will not be eligible to play for any other NRL Club during 2019.

Holmes took time to acknowledge the Sharks understanding and tremendous support of his decision, whilst confirming that he would enter fresh discussions with the Sharks about his rugby league career if his pursuit of an NFL career doesn't work out.

"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 winning the Clubs 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."

Upon hearing Holmes plans, Cronulla Sharks Football Club CEO Barry Russell said "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."