'I hold it very close to my heart': Holloway's mission to lead charge of Waratahs, Wallabies revival

Mon, Feb 12, 2024, 12:58 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

Having watched the World Cup struggles from home, forward Jed Holloway is looking to be a part of Rugby's rebuild in Australia.

Holloway was one of several leaders spotted in deep discussions with Eddie Jones at their first camp of the year in April.

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However, five months later, the Waratah found himself left out of the World Cup altogether after starting in defeats to Argentina and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship.

The 31-year-old was taken aback by the snubbing, finding comfort in the surf and spending time with his wife's family in the USA to get away from it all.

“I had a good little review period and like anyone would took it fairly harshly. If it was performance-based, I’d agree with it," he told Rugby.com.au. “The two games that I did play, I’d say I didn’t play well but yeah it was a shock and did to decompress, do things to get me back level. We’d made big plans as a family to get everything right and that wasn’t the case.

“…Super disappointed, every chance you get you want to represent your country, let alone a World Cup so I did take it pretty heavily and deservedly so.

“You run through every scenario. You reflect on every small thing and try and think of what you could’ve done better and that’s not just on the field, it’s around the meeting rooms, individual chats you have especially being in leadership positions.

“You’re constantly reviewing and you eventually come at peace with it and all I can say is I gave what I thought was my all in there. I wanted to make the Wallabies better and represent my country at the World Cup and in Eddie’s opinion I wasn’t (good enough) so I’ve got to move on. I’ve got a great opportunity at the Tahs to improve our season from last year and prove him wrong.”

It meant Holloway watched on as the Wallabies were eliminated in the group stages, their earliest exit ever.

It hurt the Waratah veteran, who over 12 months ago had been handed a dream debut in Argentina.

Holloway isn't naive to the outside noise, eager to influence the narrative around the sport that he loves so much.

“We’ve got a great opportunity as players to pick Australian Rugby up and steer it in a new direction. Rugby needs positive headlines, performances and someone to lead the way. We had when we see rugby league or cricket articles talking about how crappy Rugby is going. It’s something I hold very close to my heart," he said.

"You want to love the game and you want people to also be involved in that love and love it as much as you.

“I know a lot of the boys in the squad feel that way about it’s not just about having a good individual game. It’s about playing well and doing good things in the community whether that’s through Waratahs, promos, or charities. It’s about wanting to best represent NSW, Australia or even yourself.

“We want to take it to the right place because it has fallen off and I think we all know that but we’ve got a really good opportunity to move forward."

Holloway was linked to an exit to French club Clermont before re-signing with the Waratahs.

Having already spent time in Japan and Ireland, Holloway's motives were clear as he looked to get the side off to a strong start.

“I grew up being a massive Waratahs supporter and I’ve got kids now and I want (a strong) game to be around when they’re grown so I can talk about it them," he added.

"I take a lot of pride in how the club’s going, how Shute Shield is going and the Wallabies and I care a lot whether I’m involved or not.

“I wanted to see Rugby thriving in this country so that’s the reason why (I stayed) because I want to see it go well and want to be a part of it.

"...We did a really harsh review internally of what we probably could’ve done better and there’s a lot of things so now it’s just learning from those experiences (at the Waratahs). We started poorly last year, started so slow and it just put us on the back foot. We’re keeping all out expectations and goals for ourselves internal but we know that we’ve got to start faster than we did last year.

“… I think too many times last year we’d play well for a good passage of the game and then we played poorly for another 20 minutes. We know against the Kiwi teams and better Australian teams you just can’t afford to do that.”

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