Holmes a Wallaby bolter against Scotland?
Zack Holmes. Photo via http://brumbies.com.au/
Zack Holmes threw down the gauntlet to Wallaby coach Robbie Deans last night in his Brumbies run-on debut in windy and bitterly cold Wellington against the Hurricanes.
But Holmes was hot.
One game isn’t a career, but it was a mighty impressive start with a match-sealing try, four from four conversions and three from four penalties for a personal tally of 22 points in the 37-25 victory.
Taking over the fly-half role from Christian Lealiifano, who suffered a season-ending broken ankle against the Waratahs a fortnight ago, the 21-year-old Holmes played like a seasoned veteran.
A new Brumbies signing this year, Holmes made his way to Canberra via the Western Force Academy and starring for the Australian Sevens team. The Australian capital will now be home for Holmes for as long as he wants to stay.
His selection for last night was another coup for coach Jake White, who has done a fantastic job with the Brumbies in his first year.
He has changed the culture of the franchise virtually overnight from insipid player-power that crippled the Brumbies and made them the laughing stock of Australian rugby, to a well-drilled, well-disciplined and consistent match-winning unit.
Last night was yet another example. Down 16-25 with 26 minutes left on the clock, the Brumbies piled on 21 unanswered points in 15 minutes with converted tries to lock Sam Carter, man-of-the-match flanker Michael Hooper, and Holmes.
Game, set, and match.
White is the undisputed boss and the roster is thriving under his strong leadership.
As a direct result, skipper Ben Mowen, another White-inspired selection, Carter and his lock partner Scott Fardy, Hooper, prop Dan Palmer, No 8 Fotu Auelua up front, and out the back Joe Tomane, Andrew Smith, Jesse Mogg, along with Holmes are genuine first-time Wallaby contenders.
The Brumbies already boast quality Wallabies in Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and Pat McCabe.
Overall, that’s a binocular distance improvement over the last two seasons.
So the wheels will have to fall off dramatically to stop the Brumbies finishing the schedule on top of the Australian Conference and an automatic berth in the six-team play-offs.
They lead the Reds by 13 points with only five rounds to go. The defending champion Reds, with a game in hand, play tonight at Suncorp against the cellar-dwelling Lions and must post five points to stay in contention. Even then the ask is huge to topple the Brumbies.
They are riding high with a realistic crack at the title, thanks to the outstanding leadership of Jake White off the field, and Ben Mowen on it.
[Photo via brumbies.com.au]
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