Valentine Holmes would be welcome back at the Cronulla Sharks. Picture: Brett Costello
Valentine Holmes would be welcome back at the Cronulla Sharks. Picture: Brett Costello

Path to NFL opens for Holmes

VALENTINE Holmes' pursuit of an NFL career is on track, with the former NRL speedster named one of seven elite athletes from around the world selected for the NFL's 2019 International Player Pathway Program.

The program provides elite international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.

The NFL announced via a statement that Holmes would train alongside NFL veterans and draft hopefuls in Florida.

"The league has identified seven top athletes from five countries that will compete for a place in the 2019 program," the statement read.

Former Cronulla Shark Valentine Holmes trains with ex-Sharks trainer Trent Elkin ahead of his move to the US. Picture: Brett Costello
Former Cronulla Shark Valentine Holmes trains with ex-Sharks trainer Trent Elkin ahead of his move to the US. Picture: Brett Costello

"Given the program's success to date, the NFL widened its search for international talent, with players from Brazil and Mexico participating for the first time.

"Athletes from Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom will again be represented, including two professional rugby players, Valentine Holmes and Christian Wade, who are attempting to cross over to the NFL.

Valentine Holmes has earned a place in the NFL Pathways program. Picture: Brett Costello
Valentine Holmes has earned a place in the NFL Pathways program. Picture: Brett Costello

"(The athletes) will begin training in the United States next month and will have the opportunity to showcase their talents to NFL club scouts in March in hopes of being signed as a free agent or being selected for a 2019 practice squad position through the International Player Pathway Program."

NFL 2019 INTERNATIONAL PLAYER PATHWAY PROGRAM SELECTIONS

Christian Wade: Running Back/Kick Returner, (England), Age: 27 Represented the English rugby team at U16, U18 and U20 levels. Was selected to the British and Irish Lions squad and his 82 Premiership Rugby tries ranks third on the league's all-time list. A projected running back, he has high athletic ability and a versatile skill set.

David Bada: Defensive End, (Germany), Age: 23 Plays in the German Football League's top division for the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns.

Moubarak Djeri: Defensive Tackle, (Germany), Age: 22 Born in Togo, moved to Germany in 2007, played for the Cologne Crocodiles of the German Football League and was signed and then cut by the Arizona Cardinals in 2017.

Jakob Johnson: Fullback, (Germany), Age: 24 Played for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League before playing as a tight end at the University of Tennessee.

Durval Neto: Defensive Tackle, (Brazil), Age: 25 A judo champion before playing American football in Brazil the past four seasons. Possesses "great athletic ability".

Maximo Sanchez: Linebacker, (Mexico), Age: 25 Played in multiple domestic leagues in Mexico and was selected on Team World to play the USA U19 team.

- with Peter Mitchell AAP

THE TRAINING THAT WILL MAKE HOLMES NFL READY

THESE are the exclusive images which show former rugby league star Val Holmes is giving his NFL dream a red-hot crack.

The Daily Telegraph watched Holmes on Tuesday as he punished his body at Tribe Social Fitness in Taren Point.

Next month he will fly to the US in the hope of eventually earning a start in one of the most cutthroat competitions in the world.

He will train nine hours a day, his focus on plays, structures and defensive drills.

Leading Sydney strength and conditioning coach Trent Elkin is the man putting Holmes through his paces.

Valentine Holmes working on his strength and power with Trent Elkin at Taren Point, Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello
Valentine Holmes working on his strength and power with Trent Elkin at Taren Point, Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello

"We have worked on optimal functions - movement efficiency," said Elkin, who previously worked with the Sharks and Parramatta Eels.

"Like limb-to-limb strength and making sure he's as strong in his left leg as his right leg. Making sure there's no imbalance in his muscular system.

"We now want to develop all those qualities of speed - strength, power. That's the direction we are going.

"Explosive speed and power work hand-in-hand. I have to get him functioning optimally so he can execute those movements.

"If you don't move and you don't function optimally, you have no chance of optimising those other qualities of speed and power because you have breakdowns, so to speak, in your movements.

"We are doing anywhere from eight to 12 sessions a week. There are a couple of elements we're working on to prepare Val for when he goes over there."

News Corp Australia


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