Jed Holloway’s bumpy journey to a Wallabies jersey will finally be over in Mendoza on Sunday (5:10 a.m. AEST).
The 29-year-old’s breakout season for the Waratahs was rewarded with a blindside start in the Rugby League opener against Michael Cheika’s Pumas.
Holloway’s Test debut reportedly came in July against England before a calf injury drew a line on his name.
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But as Holloway wryly noted on Friday: “It wouldn’t be part of my journey if there were no setbacks.”
His selection is a remarkable story after being cut by NSW in 2020.
Australia’s Under-20 representative, Holloway has always had ability and made his Super Rugby debut under Cheika in 2013.
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But it took the pain of being cut off by his Home State to trigger an attitude adjustment that has now resulted in the ultimate reward.
“It’s kind of surreal to be honest, it’s something I never thought would happen a few years ago, or even last year, so to have this opportunity is huge,” Holloway said.
“It’s interesting because at the start of my career it (a calf injury) probably would have derailed me a bit. But now I have a good support network around me with my family and my wife, and my little girl now, so there are more important things than rugby.
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“I had things to walk away from that and stay positive, and knowing that we have the best physiotherapy staff here and working towards that goal, which is to get that cap.”
After being cut by the Waratahs, Holloway took a contract in Japan with a Toyota Verblitz team that included Michael Hooper, Kieran Read and Willie le Roux.
He then picked up a lifeline in NSW under Darren Coleman this year as the pair ironed out some previous differences.
“I’m just grateful to have had the opportunity from DC and to have had a lot of player support,” Holloway said.
“And I knew I had to go home with the right attitude because, and I’ve talked about this many times before, I didn’t have that before.
“I always believed in my abilities but probably the work ethic and attitude wasn’t there but that’s something that time has really shown me and now I can kind of reap the fruits of all that hard work…
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“When I initially agreed to sign with the Tahs and he was made head coach, he said it was something he needed to address again. He and I needed to sit down and work together. “Having a difficult conversation. I basically talked about my growth as a person and he talked about his growth as a coach.”
Making Holloway’s impending debut even more special is that he will share the experience with Rebels mainstay Matt Gibbon.
Gibbon has an inspirational story which he shared with the Herald Sun in 2020.
Until the age of 10, Gibbon and his brother Alex lived in Alstonville, NSW, with their parents who both had serious mental health issues.
“I grew up as a really close family friend with the Gibbons,” Holloway said.
“Me and Alex have played all the rugby in our country together, played against each other since we were 10, 11, Matt was a few years behind him but I’ve known Matt for the same amount of time .
“I’m so excited to share this opportunity with him and while I’m thrilled about this opportunity, I’m so thrilled for this guy, everything he’s overcome and the things they’ve been through throughout their lives. , the resilience he showed, I’m so proud of him.”
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