Valentine Holmes has secured a release from his Cronulla Sharks contract to pursue a career in the NFL.
News emerged on Monday the 23-year-old was seeking to leave the Sharks, prompting club officials to accelerate talks over a contract extension.
However, Holmes looks set to follow Jarryd Hayne's code-switching footsteps and attempt to secure a NFL contract, with a statement confirming a contract release.
"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," the club said.
"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."
66 - @val_holmes1 scored 66 #NRL tries since debuting in Round 21, 2014, the third most of any player in that time (Johnston 69, Oates 68) and 20 more than any other @Cronulla_Sharks player (Feki 46, Lewis 28). Dream. pic.twitter.com/uPXEAxJfdJ— OptaJason (@OptaJason) November 20, 2018
Meanwhile, the Australia and Queensland representative expressed his thanks to the Sharks, who he debuted with in 2014.
"I will be forever grateful to the Cronulla Sharks Football Club and the Sharks fans for the past five years of support," Holmes said. "It was a special moment we shared 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."
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