Greg Holmes admits he is loving the “ruthless” nature of rugby life in the Northern Hemisphere following his move from the Queensland Reds to Exeter Chiefs last summer.
Several months into his new start at Sandy Park, the experienced Aussie tight-head has got to learn first-hand about the demands of duty in not only the Aviva Premiership, but also the European Champions Cup and the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
“Looking at it from the other side of the world you probably don’t realise how full on it is here,” said the 33-year-old forward. “Now I’ve been here a few months you see how tough and ruthless the competitions really are, it’s week in, week out, but I’m loving it.”
As one of three new faces signed by Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter last summer, Holmes – along with fellow newcomers Ollie Devoto and compatriot Dave Dennis – have all made their mark for last season’s beaten Premiership finalists.
After a somewhat slow start to the new campaign, one in which they lost not only their opening two Premiership games, but also their first three games in the Champions Cup, recent weeks have seen the Devonians find their straps, not only moving to third in the league table, but also claiming a notable first win over Bordeaux-Begles in Europe’s top club competition.
Back-to-back victories over Leicester Tigers and Bath over the festive period added to the feel-good factor, while the unbeaten run of six top flight games continued last weekend with a 13-13 draw against reigning English and European champions Saracens at Allianz Park.
That said, there was a feeling within the Exeter camp that they perhaps had missed an opportunity to down Mark McCall’s side, particularly given the fact the home side lost prop Richard Barrington to a red card after just 11 minutes of the game for a dangerous tackle on Geoff Parling.
“We we’re disappointed not to win,” said the Australian international. “A lot of hard work and time went into the game, we performed will in patches, and over the 80 minutes it was a game that we could and should have won.
“You can see in the sheds that we we’re a bit down, but the bigger picture is we got two points out of the game against the champions. We know we could have been a bit better and that the game was there for winning, but we have to take what we’ve got.
“Everyone knows Saracens are a quality side and they showed why they are the team they are. They were down, but not out. They chipped away all game and they kept in the fight with 14 men, so fair play to them for salvaging the draw in the end.”
But whilst the Chiefs will undoubtedly feel they missed an opportunity to topple the Londoners, Holmes believes recent displays have put the club in a decent position to attack the second half of the season.
“It’s been a good block for us,” said Holmes. “Obviously we targeted to win all three games, so to get two wins a draw is good news, but I guess the key thing is we didn’t lose. We’re now in the top three of the table and we have lots of positives to work with.”
With the Premiership taking a break for the next month due to Europe and Anglo-Welsh Cup action, the focus now for all and sundry at the Chiefs is this Sunday’s visit of Ulster to Sandy Park (5:30pm).
“Sunday’s another big game for us against Ulster,” continued Holmes. “It’s a completely different competition, but it’s one of the reasons I wanted to come to England. You want to experience new things and that’s what I am doing.
“As for the game, we need to throw everything at it. We’re on a bit of a roll right now and it’s important we keep that going. As a club we know we need to keep performing and there is nothing bigger stage than Sunday’s game.”
Tickets for the Ulster game are still available either through the Trading Post, which is open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm or online by clicking here
Member since: 5th January 2016
Hi, I am Mark Stevens, Media and Communications Manager for the Exeter Chiefs