Cronulla legend Mat Rogers applauds the club’s decision to release NFL hopeful Valentine Holmes.Sharks great Mat Rogers has lashed Paul Gallen for his “unbelievably stupid” outburst as the fallout continues from Cronulla’s decision to allow star fullback Valentine Holmes to chase his NFL dream.
While Gallen has called on the NRL to consider life bans for players who break contracts to pursue another sport, Rogers on Wednesday applauded Cronulla chief executive Barry Russell for granting Holmes a release.
“I think Gal’s over-reacted,” Rogers told AAP after Cronulla’s co-captain accused Holmes of leaving the Sharks “in a big hole”.
“For someone who goes and cops money for fighting while he’s contracted, it’s unbelievable that he’d come out and say something so stupid.
“Oh mate, Gal, keep your mouth shut mate.”
Rogers acknowledged Gallen had the right to be disappointed, but felt it wasn’t panic stations yet for coach Shane Flanagan.
“Don’t forget they’ve got (Josh) Dugan there who’s been a pretty good fullback in his time, and (Matt) Moylan, as well as Josh Morris coming in,” Rogers said.
“So they can shift players around a little bit. I don’t think they’re in too bad a position, if they can stay healthy.”
Rogers believes it’s the timing of Holmes’ departure, three days before the try-scoring freak was due to report back for 2019 pre-season training, that will have hurt the Sharks most.
“It’s a bit disappointing the decision wasn’t made six months ago and they could have signed Benny Barba. I’m sure he would have come back in a heartbeat,” said the dual international.
After having his contract terminated by the Sharks following his cocaine-fuelled grand final celebrations two years ago, Barba has returned from a stint in the English Super League to take up a one-season deal in 2019 with North Queensland.
Before Holmes’ shock announcement he was heading to the US, the Cowboys had been confident of luring Townsville-born flyer back to his home town in 2020.
Should his American dream not materialise, Holmes could yet still wind up back at the Cowboys in a development that could also pave the way for Barba to return to the Sharks.
“Maybe they bide their time and wait for Benny at the end of next year. I know he’s got a great relationship with a lot of the players there (at Cronulla),” Rogers said.
“That’s probably the toughest situation, the timing, and probably where Gal’s frustrated and he’d be speaking – before he’s thinking – with too much emotion.
“But I’m all about the players first. For too long I’ve seen teammates get burnt.
“So good on Barry Russell for releasing him because they could have dug their heels in and made it difficult, but Cronulla’s never been like that.”