It’s been a long time coming but Jed Holloway’s patient apprenticeship is finally paying dividends.
In his fourth season with the Waratahs, Holloway has played a part in every match this season, culminating in a hat-trick cameo against the Highlanders on Friday night.
The back rower said he was feeling more settled in the top level each week..
“I feel like I’m gradually growing towards that role and starting to do that and feeling more comfortable at this level and it’s a big step up,” he said.
“Super Rugby is the pinnacle of club footy around here and pretty much in the world.
“I’m just excited to be at this level and to get to represent my state.”
Most of Holloway’s weekends in recent years have meant suiting up for Southern Districts in the Shute Shield, gaining advice and experience from Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and Wycliff Palu at the Waratahs through the week.
Holloway admitted injuries and a lack of opportunities planted seeds of doubt around his own Super Rugby prospects but he has taken those setbacks in his stride.
“You always doubt yourself,” he said.
“(You get) a couple of injuries and you’re not getting selected when sometimes you do feel (ready) but that’s footy.
“You’ve just got to take those on the chin and always be prepared and be ready.”
Now that he has been handed a regular chance, the 23-year-old is determined to capitalise on it.
“I’m just so glad that Daryl’s given me the opportunities has this year and the coaches have because I’m hungry,” he said.
“That’s something I really want to show to them and to my teammates as well.
“I just want to do the best for this team and really try help any way I can.”
And a hat-trick in front of a home crowd was a fairly good way to aid the side’s cause.
“Any opportunity I get to play for NSW is massive for me and being a NSW born and bred boy I always followed the Waratahs,” he said.
To come off the bench for someone like Cliffy tonight was a pretty big thing for me because I’ve always looked up to him.
“It’s a bit cliche but it means a lot for me to play for New South Wales.”
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson praised Holloway's performance after the match.
"He did exactly what I asked of him," he said.
"(I said), 'Let Cliffy do the first 30-40 minutes and you come and do what you do, make an impact'.
"Every performance that he gets like that it’ll give him a lot of belief and obviously he’s a player of enormous potential and when he really starts to believe in himself he'll do very well."