Castleford Tigers: Holmes relishing Knights challenge after starring for England

England's Oliver Holmes is tackled by France's Benjamin Jullien (left) and William Barthau.
England's Oliver Holmes is tackled by France's Benjamin Jullien (left) and William Barthau.
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CASTLEFORD TIGERS forward Oliver Holmes’ feet have barely touched the ground over the last 10 days.

The 26-year-old was called up from the England Knights squad into the full international side for this week’s one-off clash with France.

England head coach Wayne Bennett.

England head coach Wayne Bennett.

He made his Test debut in the starting team, was voted players’ man of the match and just 12 hours later was in the air heading for Brisbane with the Knights group ahead of their forthcoming tour of Papua New Guinea.

It is not exactly a restful time after a long, tough season, but Holmes insists he would not have it any other way.

“I haven’t really looked at the Papua New Guinea part of it yet, because I was just looking at these few days with England,” Holmes admitted.

“I have been keeping focused on that and doing a job for the elite squad.

England's Richie Myler (centre) celebrates his try against France.

England's Richie Myler (centre) celebrates his try against France.

“I feel I have done a decent job in there and I can look forward to Papua New Guinea now.

“It is going to be an interesting trip, I have never been that side of the world before so it will be good.”

His few days with England, who are preparing to take on New Zealand in a three-Test series, will send Holmes into the Brisbane training camp and the two matches that follow in confident mood.

The second-rower was the pick of the four players promoted from the Knights and earned praise from coach Wayne Bennett as well as his teammates.

He said: “It has been an honour really. I never expected it to come around, it was a bit of a surprise.

“I know it is on a bit of a technicality with the lads who played in the Grand Final, but it was an opportunity and one I really enjoyed.”

England led 38-0 at half-time before easing off in the second half of their 44-6 victory. Of his own performance, Holmes said: “I didn’t really expect it to be like that, it is an international Test so I just wanted to get out there and do my job and do it well and not let the lads down, but I made a couple of breaks and things like that and it worked out pretty good.”

Of his pat on the back from Bennett, Holmes added: “He’s obviously regarded as one of the best coaches in the world so to get some praise off him like that, stepping in for a game, I feel honoured and massively happy with it.”

Holmes got his chance when Bennett decided not to use any of the Wigan Warriors or Warrington Wolves players involved in last Saturday’s Betfred Super League Grand Final. He admitted to “a little bit” of regret he could not remain with the full squad, but insisted: “It is two different experiences.

“I’d love to be a part of the one over here, but I am going to experience another side of the world and I am really looking forward to that. I have never been past Thailand before so it is different and something I am going to enjoy. We are training out of Brisbane’s training compound for a couple of days so we’ll get to see some NRL facilities, which are first class and a bit of Brisbane while we’re there, so that’s a double bonus.”