Brumbies entrust playmaker role to young gun Holmes
15 May 2012 SPORT Canberra Times photograph by GRAHAM TIDY Story by Jon Tuxworth/Chris Dutton. Brumbies training at their Griffith HQ. Zack Holmes in action. Photo: Graham Tidy GGT
They tried to lure Wallabies great Stephen Larkham out of retirement and signed veteran point-scoring ace Peter Hewat, but the ACT Brumbies will put their faith in a Super Rugby rookie to take the flyhalf reins on Friday night.
First-year playmaker Zack Holmes will be thrown into the Brumbies No.10 guernsey for their clash with the Wellington Hurricanes in New Zealand.
Holmes has won a three-way battle to get the first chance to fill the void left by Christian Lealiifano, who suffered a season-ending broken leg two weeks ago.
Holmes, Hewat and Robbie Coleman all trained at flyhalf this week.
But with 34-year-old former NSW Waratah Hewat only joining the team three days ago and with Coleman adding versatile punch from the bench, Holmes won the chance to direct the Brumbies around the field.
Former Australian sevens player Holmes is in his debut Super Rugby season and has seen limited game time from the bench this year.
But in his brief appearances the lightning quick 21-year-old has shown glimpses of his potential at the top level.
The Brumbies are expected to make just one other change to their back line with scrumhalf Nic White being rotated to the bench and Ian Prior stepping into the starting XV.
Lealiifano's absence is a massive blow for the young Brumbies as they attempt to win three games in a row for the first time in two years.
He was the chief playmaker, the goal kicker and an on-field leader.
Holmes is an accurate goal kicker, but the youngster's ball skills will be put to the test against the eighth-placed Hurricanes.
Meanwhile, Brumbies hooker Siliva Siliva hopes he can end his injury woes and be fit to play against Wales at Canberra Stadium on June 12. Siliva's Super Rugby career was halted when he had a knee reconstruction at the end of last year.
And just three games into his comeback in Canberra's premier division, Siliva damaged ligaments in his ankle which will keep the former Australian under-20s rake out of action for another month.
Extended player squad member Anthony Hegarty has stepped up in Siliva's absence to be Stephen Moore's back-up.
But the 20-year-old is targeting a return against Wales and then wants to make his Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies.
''It's been very frustrating,'' Siliva said. ''It's been a tough 10 months but I just want to work hard, stay strong and get back as fast as I can.
''My goal is to just play a Super Rugby game before the season is over so I can get the feel of it and be fully ready and prepared for next year.''
Brumbies prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa will fly to Fiji today to join the national team after being granted an international release to play for his home country.
Super Rugby round 13: Wellington Hurricanes v ACT Brumbies at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 5.35pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 3.
LIKELY BRUMBIES TEAM
1. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Dan Palmer, 4. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Ben Mowen, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Fotu Auelua, 9. Ian Prior, 10. Zack Holmes, 11. Joseph Tomane, 12. Pat McCabe, 13. Andrew Smith, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Jesse Mogg.
Reserves: 16. Anthony Hegarty, 17. Ruaidhri Murphy, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Ita Vaea, 20. Nic White, 21. Robbie Coleman, 22. Tevita Kuridrani.