Rugby Union


Zack will bounce back

Rookie flyhalf Zack Holmes will shrug off last week's crucial penalty goal miss and rise to the occasion when the ACT Brumbies need him the most, Pat McCabe says.

Holmes is expected to be retained as the team's first-choice goalkicker for tomorrow night's Super Rugby clash with the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.

Holmes, who celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday, has slotted seamlessly into the No.10 jersey after season-ending injuries to Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano, the only blemish coming when he missed what would have been a match-winning penalty goal after the full-time siren against the Queensland Reds last week.

Instead, the Reds held on for a 13-12 win to pull within five points of the Australian conference leaders.

And with the race for what is likely to be the one and only playoff place for Australian teams wide open, Wallabies centre McCabe believes Holmes is up to the task of getting the Brumbies back into the winners' circle.

''He's a confident guy and he'll bounce back straight away,'' McCabe said.


''Obviously afterwards he was disappointed, but for the rest of the night he did extremely well, it was just one of those things.

''If he had his time again, he might nail it next time.

''The little touches and his running game has been outstanding.''

Holmes had only made two Super Rugby appearances before he was installed as the Brumbies' starting flyhalf against the Wellington Hurricanes.

The Perth product delivered a man-of-the-match performance to lead the Brumbies to a famous victory at Westpac Stadium, and carried that form into last week's individual match-up with the mercurial Quade Cooper.

His ability to step up to the mark has allowed McCabe to play his natural game at inside centre.

McCabe has continued on in the vein which established him as Australia's premier No.12 at last year's World Cup - running hard, tackling anything that moves and giving his flyhalf plenty of options in attack.

Yet he's adamant he can become a more complete player by taking on a greater leadership role in the backline, both for the Brumbies and on the international stage.

''It's something that has been evolving, especially since Christian's injury,'' McCabe said.

''I think I've been doing a little bit more of the calling and trying to help out the guys as much as I possibly can.

''It's something I enjoy doing.''

While McCabe, Ben Alexander and Stephen Moore were the only Brumbies in the Wallabies squad at the World Cup, that number has swelled to eight for the mid-year Tests against Scotland and Wales.

Dan Palmer, Nic White, Michael Hooper, Joe Tomane and Jesse Mogg have all been rewarded for the Brumbies' impressive Super Rugby campaign.

''I think they'll be great,'' McCabe said of the debutants.

''Super Rugby is the best mark of how you're going to perform and they've been outstanding. There's no reason why they won't go out there and do what they've been doing for the Brumbies.''