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Holmes 'comfortable' in promising Jets debut for NFL bid

Former NRL star Valentine Holmes says he felt at ease during a "surreal" debut for the New York Jets in a pre-season NFL fixture on Friday (AEST).

The Jets lost to the New York Giants 31-22 and Holmes was forced to bide his time before entering the action at MetLife Stadium.

After sitting out the first half – the period in which both sides used many of the players they expect to deploy during the regular season – Holmes saw some game time in the second half.

He got three touches as a running back for a total of six yards.

The best part of his day came as a receiver. He made a total of 30 yards from his three receptions – a good return for the rookie.

Holmes wasn’t used as a kick-off or punt returner. That is one of the areas in which he would be hoping to impress Jets coaching staff.

A thunderstorm late in the opening quarter paused proceedings for 45 minutes as the players took shelter in the dressing rooms, adding to the whirlwind nature of Holmes's outing.

Valentine Holmes in jersey 39 with his New York Jets teammates.
Valentine Holmes in jersey 39 with his New York Jets teammates. ©

"It was crazy. I've never really experienced anything like that where we've had to stop a game due to the weather," Holmes told a scrum of reporters.

"But I knew we were going to get out there eventually. I think we were in here [the rooms] for 45 minutes, so it was kind of weird to do that and try and stay warm at the same time.

"I had a long time to watch and see what was going on in the blitzes and stuff. I could see who I was picking up and whatnot. 

"It’s obviously surreal. I was getting goosebumps ... You always watch games like this on TV. But to be able to experience it right next to these guys and to be able to step out on that field and play is something special.

"I’m real happy I’m here.”

Holmes is vying for selection on the Jets' 53-man roster to be announced in September. Having come through the International Player Pathway Program, the 24-year-old is assured of a place in the team's practice squad if he fails.

The ex-Queensland Origin winger's former Cronulla Sharks teammates gathered around a mobile phone to watch his maiden Jets performance.

Holmes dropped into Sharks training and watched the round 15 clash against Canterbury-Bankstown alongside coach John Morris during a recent Australian visit.

But Morris doesn't expect the 2016 premiership winner will return to the NRL any time soon despite maintaining close connections with the Cronulla squad.

"I'd love to have Val back but I think with where we currently sit, we're continually managing our salary cap as it is - let alone adding Val Holmes into the mix," Morris said on Thursday.

"Would he be welcomed back? He certainly would be, but from my belief I don't think he'll be back. I think he's locked in over there for at least another 12 months regardless of if he makes the 53-man squad.

"But Val's always welcome back at the Sharks. I have a good relationship with Val ... Hopefully he can make a big impression on the Jets. The boys are in contact with him, they're best mates with him."

North Queensland, who are believed to have room under their salary cap to accommodate Holmes, are understood to be the frontrunners to sign the Townsville-born flyer if he were to return to the Telstra Premiership.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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