Ex-Jets running back comes up big on an international stage

Over in Australia, they've been playing the State of Origin series. This is one of the biggest events in the Rugby League calendar, as the top players in the Nation represent Queensland and New South Wales in a historic three-game series. It's like if the Pro Bowl was the biggest game of the year instead of the Super Bowl.

This event has been running for over 40 years and last night saw Queensland take game two by a score of 32-6 to secure a 2-0 lead in the series and win the coveted Origin Shield for the 24th time. They now have a chance to become just the eighth team to achieve a clean sweep when the teams meet again in three weeks.

The relevance to the Jets is that one of their former players had a major role in the win as Valentine Holmes scored two of the first three tries to help Queensland build a 16-0 lead early in the first half.

Holmes was with the Jets in 2019 as a member of the International Pathway Program and played for the team in preseason. He showed some flashes as a ball carrier and on returns, but unsurprisingly looked a little lost when required to block. He ultimately opted to leave the team in November 2019 having been on the practice squad, citing the fact that he had struggled to fit in socially.

Truth be told, Holmes' career hasn't exactly gone from strength to strength since he returned down under. He had scored 66 tries (a try is the equivalent of a touchdown for the uninitiated) in his first five seasons in the NRL, including 22 in 2018 alone. However, he's only scored 22 in total in the three seasons since his return.

It's not all been bad though. He led the league in scoring this year, in part because of his emergence as one of the league's best goal-kickers. He was also part of the Australia team that won the 2021 Rugby League cup last year, scoring a vital try in the 16-14 semi-final win over New Zealand.

In Origin, though, he's writing his name in history. His two tries in this week's game give him 13 in 15 games, putting him alone in third place all-time and elevating him above another former NFL player in Jarryd Hayne. He's still only 27 so could have a crack at the all-time record (18) before he's done.

While Holmes didn't work out with the Jets, the Pathway Program has had some successes in recent years with players like Efe Odaba, Jakob Johnson and Jordan Mailata all contributing at the NFL level. The Jets will be due to have another player allocated to them within the next year or two and hopefully that player will be a bigger success story in the NFL rather than overseas.