Holmes last Tahs' chance comes too late - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Holmes last Tahs' chance comes too late

Jim Morton 23/06/2011 02:21:18 PM Comments (0)

Forgotten man Josh Holmes failed to fill the big boots of George Gregan at the Brumbies because he was too young and inconsistent three years ago.

Now he's finally in the right place at the right time, thrust into the Waratahs No.9 jersey at Eden Park.

But the more-equipped halfback won't be filling Luke Burgess's shoes either next season.

Instead, Australian rugby's faded rising star will be following in Toulouse-bound Burgess's footsteps by leaving NSW to continue his perplexing career in France.

Holmes on Thursday was confirmed as the replacement for Burgess (broken hand) in Friday night's Super Rugby elimination final against the Blues, with NSW coach Chris Hickey presenting him with a gilt-edged chance to end a season of frustration on a high.

But the 24-year-old reluctantly revealed the opportunity would be short-lived as five consecutive years of failed expectations - with the Waratahs (2007, 2010-11) and Brumbies (2008-09) - have taken their toll and he was heading overseas.

"I'm 24 now and I love playing for the Waratahs," he said.

"But I've looked around because I wasn't in the 22 for a long time and I have to look after my future as well."

The man Holmes beat to the No.9 jersey, Brendan McKibbin is the only halfback contracted by NSW at this stage as they failed to lure Rebel Nick Phipps from Melbourne.

Strong, athletic and tall for a halfback at 187cm, Holmes' size and power game are tailor-made for the brutal forward-oriented battle expected in the wet against the Blues.

Like Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh, he refuses to believe the clash will be his last NSW game, daring to dream the injury-ravaged team can produce the unthinkable in the play-offs.

"No, hopefully I've got two more," he said. "That (leaving) is probably the last thing in my head."

Highly touted to be the next Nick Farr-Jones after starring for the world-title winning Australian under-19 team in 2006, Holmes admitted he hadn't been mature or consistent enough to fulfil the promise he showed as a teenager.

"There was a lot of pressure back then and I went down to the Brumbies and George was leaving and I was looked upon down there that maybe I could be the next big thing and I didn't really fill those shoes," he said.

Being hedged in behind Test regular Burgess for the last two seasons had not helped, stalling his development by sitting on the bench.

"Sometimes it's hard when you're not playing and you can turn up to training and holding pads and stuff, it can get you down," he said.

"But I think I've worked out this year you just hang in there and good things come around."

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