The 33-year-old prop is one of three new faces set to arrive at Sandy Park this summer, having been recruited by head coach Rob Baxter from Australian Super Rugby side, Queensland Reds, ahead of the new 2016/17 season.
Holmes is set to end his 11-year association with the Reds once the current Super Rugby season finishes and will come straight into the Chiefs plans as they look to attack the new Premiership and European Champions Cup campaigns.
The experienced tight-head will be joined in Devon by compatriot Dave Dennis, who will arrive from the NSW Waratahs, plus England international Ollie Devoto, who is making the short switch from league rivals Bath Rugby.
The arrival of all three players is yet another boost to the Chiefs, who last season finished runners-up to Saracens in the top flight, as well as reaching the last eight of Europe’s top cup competition.
Holmes has less than a handful of games remaining for the Reds, but he was part of the Wallabies squad for their recent summer series against England, featuring in all three games against Eddie Jones’ all-conquering side.
Disappointed to be on the end of a 3-0 whitewash, Holmes was able to get a taste of what he can expect from playing in England, coming up against the likes of Mako Vunipola, Matt Mullan, Dan Cole and Paul Hill.
“I can’t wait to get over to Exeter,” said Holmes. “It’s going to be a new chapter of my life from myself and my family, but I know I’m going to a very good club, who showed last season that they are going very well.
“As I said, it’s an exciting challenge for me and I want to go over there, do my bit and find out more about the culture of the club and life in England.”
Holmes knows that the Northern Hemisphere game has a great focus on set-piece elements and for a prop that is almost like ‘music to his ears’.
“It’s going to be a totally different competition to what I am used to and probably a step up in terms of the set-piece,” he added. “England have shown in the recent series how strong they are in that area, so it will be good to try and match it with those guys.”
Set-piece aside, Holmes says the challenge of tackling a new way of life, on and off the field, is something that he is keen to experience – and that a glowing endorsement from Australian team-mate Dean Mumm only helped to justify his decision.
“I spoke to Dean about the place and also the chats I had with Rob [Baxter], he sold the place well and was one of the main reasons why I decided to join,” said Holmes, who has won 27 caps for the Wallabies. “Obviously I don’t know too much about the place or the ins and outs of the competition, but from what I’ve seen on TV, it looks a tough environment to be in especially if you’re a forward.
“Whenever you’re moving to a new club, you always want to be going to a good team, so from my perspective I’m delighted to be going to a club who are doing well. I just can’t wait to get started over there now.”
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