Holmes backs reserves return

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Tom Holmes in action for Featherstone against former loan club Batley
Tom Holmes in action for Featherstone against former loan club Batley

Tom Holmes believes Super League will benefit by having a full reserve-grade competition to help the development of young players.

The 23-year-old is a product of Castleford Tigers’ scholarship system, but had to gain experience of senior professional rugby league via loan spells with now-defunct League One club Oxford and Championship side Batley Bulldogs.

At present, Hull FC and Wakefield Trinity are the only two Super League clubs with teams in the RFL Reserves Championship, however that is set to change in 2020.

The RFL have recently confirmed that confirm that a Reserve Grade competition will be relaunched next year with all 11 English Super League clubs approving a proposal to all have a mandated reserve team.

Widnes and Bradford, will also have a side, while five further applications from clubs in Betfred Championship and League One have been received, with decisions to be made by the end of July.

Huddersfield Giants half-back Holmes enjoyed going out on loan, he is in no doubt a vibrant reserve competition would help with the transition from youth rugby.

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“It was difficult at the time, but I had to do it,” Holmes told BreakingNews Sports. “I wanted to better myself and whatever Powelly [Castleford head coach Daryl Powell] wanted me to do, I wanted to prove myself to him.

“I think reserve grade would have been great for me at the time. I’d been in the system a long time at Cas so I knew the plays, but then going to other clubs throughout the same season, it’s hard for a half-back to pick up plays and be consistent.

“I think we’re missing reserve grade across Super League, but for young lads going out on loan it’s massive – especially the Championship now because it’s a really tough league with some good players and good teams in there. That jump from academy to first team is a massive jump.”

Holmes made his Huddersfield bow against Salford three weeks ago
Holmes made his Huddersfield bow against Salford three weeks ago

Holmes has been back out on loan again this year, rejoining Featherstone Rovers for seven games to get some game-time under his belt after a knee injury curtailed his 2018 campaign with the Championship club.

That has allowed him to keep playing while waiting for an opportunity at Huddersfield, which finally came three weeks ago in the 36-18 win away to Salford Red Devils, but Holmes is prepared to keep putting in the hard work.

“It was really good at Featherstone to get game-time and obviously I wanted to do my best for them, but at the end of the day it was for me to get game-time and get a bit of consistency back,” Holmes said.

“I’ve been working with Huddersfield all the time as well and wanting a spot, and when Simon [Wooldford, Huddersfield head coach] said he was looking to play me I was absolutely buzzing.

“We’ve got four half-backs at the club and we’re all really good mates, but we all want a spot so I was really happy to get the call.

“For my first game with the lads, I didn’t think I went too badly, but I’ve still got to build some combinations and get some consistency back in Super League.”



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