If you thought it was bad that Valentine Holmes stunned the Sharks by using the media to reveal his NFL dream, the situation just got uglier.
It emerged on Monday that Holmes, 23, would seek a release from the final year of his contract with Cronulla.
After a crisis meeting with the Sharks on Tuesday, the State of Origin star was granted his exit and he is now free to move to the United States.
Cronulla bosses and coach Shane Flanagan were so angered that the club made sure to point out Holmes was walking away from the richest contract in their history – a six-year, $6 million deal he was yet to sign.
TWO YEARS AGO: Why Holmes failed at first attempt to make NFL transition
It has since emerged that Holmes, in addition to his media drop, only told his teammates via text.
“I checked my phone and there was a message to the boys,” Wade Graham said.
“Obviously a lot’s happened in the last 48 hours and it wasn’t ideal. He expressed that in an ideal world he would have loved to have had a chat to the boys before anything came out.
“But he’s been on leave; he hasn’t been at training so the circumstances just didn’t work out for him but he has reached out to us.”
Considering the reaction, the Sharks appear to believe that being on holidays was no excuse.
Paul Gallen was so disappointed in the manner of Holmes’s exit that when they spoke he made sure the young star knew what he’d done.
Then the veteran went public with the unexpected suggestion that the NRL should ban players for life.
“The NRL have to step in here and do something about this,” he told Channel Nine.
“The guys that have the ability to go to the NFL are the marquee players, they’re the best players, they’re the players our kids aspire to be, and he’s just broken a contract.
“Not only does he have a Sharks contract, he has an NRL contract.
“Now the NRL is always on about the integrity of the game, I don’t see how this is good for the integrity of the game – breaking a contract with one year to go, just walking out on a club and the game.
“Look, I think it’s got to be a minimum two years out of the game and if not out forever. If you’re off-contract go for your life, you’re not letting anyone down. He’s let the playing group down, he’s let the club down, and he’s left us in a big hole.”
Those comments sent NRL fans into a frenzy, with an old tweet supporting Jarryd Hayne’s NFL move quickly resurfaced.
Gallen’s explanation of the differences further muddied the waters of Holmes’s departure.
“Hayne discussed it with the club, decision was made by the the club to let him go end of season,” he wrote.
“Not dropped late November via media with no discussion or opportunity to plan.”
Yet amid all the frustration, the players do wish him well.
“It’s been a dream of his, which is great. I push guys to pursue their dreams without a doubt,” Gallen said.
“I’ve told him that, I’ve got nothing against him personally obviously I thanked him for everything he’s done at our club, he’s won a premiership with us, he’s been our best player but the way this has happened I’m disappointed in him.”
Hayne discussed it with the club, decision was made by the the club to let him go end of season. Not dropped late November via media with no discussion or opportunity to plan. If u listen I say if anyone can make it he can (Val) and I hope he does. Again get the facts right champ
— Paul Gallen (@PaulGallen13) November 20, 2018
Graham echoed those sentiments.
“It’s bittersweet as a club. He’s coming off a season where he was our best player by a long way, he’s been an integral part of our success for the last few years,” he said.
“As a teammate and from a club’s perspective, he’s going to be a big hole for us to fill.
“But, on a friendship level, and the challenge that he’s accepted to go and try his hand in the NFL, we wish him all the best. It’s going to be exciting to watch his journey and see how far he can take it.
“It’s a big challenge. He’s obviously confident in his ability and, if Val backs himself, I’m happy to support him.
“You can’t help but respect someone who will get out of their comfort zone, turn their back on a really lucrative deal to take a chance on such a big challenge. I’ve got nothing but respect for him.”