Jed Holloway has been in the Super Rugby scene for a few years now but after picking up the man of the match award in his starting debut last weekend, it seems 2016 is his time to shine.
You started your first game for the Waratahs last weekend, how do you think you went?
I think it went pretty well. Any chance I get to play for my state is a really important thing for me and my family. It was a good win for the team but we know we have a lot we can improve on. There were some real positives in our performance, but a lot of things that we have gone and worked hard on at training this week and we are really looking forward to the clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
You were named man of the match, that must give you confidence?
Yeah, I was happy with my performance but I thought guys like Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps were awesome as well so I was pretty surprised to get it. It definitely gives me confidence to know I can play at this level but I’m not reading too much into it and just trying to focus on improving each week to become a better rugby player and help the team.
You’ve been at the Waratahs for four years now but haven't seen a whole lot of game time, are you ready to make the Waratahs No.8 jersey your own?
Yeah, I’ve been waiting in the wings and bouncing around a few different positions in the last few years but I always wanted to play No.8, that’s where I’ve played most at club level. I’ve loved my time at the Waratahs since the start and I wouldn't change it for the world. I’ve learnt so much off guys like Cliffy (Wycliff Palu) and Steven Hoiles, so hopefully now I can show them the respect and repay the Waratahs for the loyalty they have shown me.
You’ve played plenty of Intrust Super Shute Shield and NRC in recent years, how important have those competitions been for your development?
Yeah Southern Districts has been a pretty massive part of my life, not only from an individual standpoint but also for my family. That club has really helped me develop as a person. I turned up as a young 18-year old and have had great coaches like Cam Blades, Matt Barr and Jim Williams and a lot of the other assistants and they all helped me develop. I was lucky enough to captain first grade and play a couple of grand finals and a few semi finals, so that has helped me to be reasonably composed in big moments of games.
I also got the opportunity to captain the (Greater Sydney) Rams and that was a bit of a step up from club footy and really helped my development and got me ready to play Super Rugby.
You look like you’ve put on some size. Was it a big off-season in the gym?
Yeah it was actually. Daryl (Gibson) has been great since he stepped into the role and has been fairly clear about how he wants me to play and how he wants to make us all better rugby players. Size and physicality have definitely been things that I’ve been focussed on and they are things you need to play Super Rugby if you want to play that physical style like Cliffy (Palu) and Will Skelton.
Some critics wrote the Tahs off this year. Do you think the side is good enough to be a threat in 2016?
Oh definitely. We’ve lost a wealth of experience and it’s hard to replace guys like Adam Ashley Cooper, Chappo (Mitch Chapman) and Hoilesy (Steven Hoiles) but we’ve got a really good group of young guys that are really pushing each other every day.
In the backrow, it’s really tight. Going into the Reds game, I really didn't know who was going to play. Guys like Brad Wilkin, Ned Hanigan, Jack Dempsey and then the old boy Cliffy (Palu). Everyone is pushing each other to get those starting spots and I think it has driven the standard up even higher than last year. There is a really good feel around the group and a real belief that we can go deep into the competition.
You take on a fairly impressive Brumbies pack on Friday night. What do you need to do to come out on top of that battle?
Firstly, I think it’s important not to read to much into the whole aura of the Brumbies pack. They do have a really good forward pack and a lot of really talented players, but we are just focussed on what we need to bring to the match and what we need to do to bring our game to the situation. Take nothing away from them, they are a quality side, but we are just focussed on ourselves this week.
Talk us through your perfect day away from footy?
We’ve got a cabin down in the Royal National Park so I love getting down there. It’s only about a 20 minute drive from Cronulla and then a 20 minute walk down the hill so I like to go down there, open up the cabin and go for a snorkel or a surf and just lounge around and chill out. That’s about the perfect day in my books.
This interview was conducted as part of a collaboration between Rugby News and The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA), designed to help the Australian Rugby public get to know some of the newer professional stars of our game who have graduated from Club Rugby. For more information on RUPA and the services they offer, click here.