Jonah Holmes made the bold call to switch from the back of rucks to the last line of defence at the start of this season but he says the change is paying off as he looks to crack the Wasps first team.
A scrum-half by trade, Holmes moved into the 15 jersey at the start of the season and has been a revelation for Henley with whom he is dual-registered.
Prominent in the second half of the season for the Hawks, Holmes grabbed a try last weekend in their promotion decider against Worthing, which they won 55-27, to help the team into National One, and he was quick to point out what a valuable experience it has been for him.
He said: “I got to play the last seven straight games for Henley and it was incredible to finish the way we did by beating Worthing to get promotion.
“We were all buzzing for a winner-takes-all game but even so we didn’t expect it to go the way it did. They had smashed us earlier in the season so it was nice to get one back.
“It’s been a big change for me this year, I came through at Wasps as a scrum-half but at the end of the season the coaches had a look at me on the wing and it seemed to go well.
“I thought it was the right move for my career and I’ve played at full-back and on the wing for Henley this season and it’s gone really well.
“I’d played most of my rugby at school as an outside back, so it’s somewhere I feel comfortable. I even used to play a lot of games where I’d play scrum-half in the first half and full-back in the second.
“There are obviously things I need to get used to at this level, the positioning is a little bit different.
“But overall it’s just a case of making sure that I can be as effective as possible from next year.”
Having spent a lot of time at Henley this season, along with fellow Wasps youngsters Will Robinson and Nathan Morris, Holmes is likely to head out to a Championship side next term.
He has already spent a little time with both London Scottish, and London Welsh this year, and he believes a season of full-time rugby could be the catalyst for a breakthrough at Adams Park, particularly with the help of new attack coach and former British Lion and Welsh Grand Slam winner Stephen Jones.
Holmes added: “The aim next season will be to find a Championship club and play for them full-time, that will, hopefully, make a big difference for me.
“I spent a little bit of time at Scottish before but only played in British & Irish Cup games, and with Welsh because of injuries back at Wasps I only got the one game as well.
“But if I can get some regular game time under my belt that’ll really help me. I know that at Wasps with the likes of Elliot Daly, Christian Wade and Joe Launchbury there is a great young group of players coming through.
“When you look at the outside backs people like Wade and Tom Varndell are getting their chance and getting lots of ball so it’s a great place for young players coming through.
“My aim is to break through alongside them. It’s been good having [departing backs coach] Shane Howarth to help me a bit this year. He always had some valuable advice when it came to things on the video.
“Working with Stephen Jones will be great as well, he’s obviously got so much experience and played at the top level so that’ll really help me. He knows pretty much everything there is to know after 100 caps.”
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