WATCH: Huddersfield Giants debutant Tom Holmes on how his "brave" decision finally paid off
SOME PEOPLE thought Huddersfield Giants scrum-half Tom Holmes was crazy for choosing to leave Castleford Tigers and join part-timers Featherstone Rovers two years ago.
It has taken some time but Holmes finally returned to the elite level on Thursday night, impressing on debut as Huddersfield earned a crucial 36-18 win at Salford Red Devils.
Having suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament with Featherstone last June, he was ruled out for the remainder of the season with his future up in the air.
However, Huddersfield had seen enough of his quality in his 18 games for Rovers to opt to give him a three-year deal last August.
After a long rehab, and a couple of months back on loan at Featherstone, Holmes was given his chance by Giants coach Simon Woolford who urgently needed some fresh impetus with his side on a four-game losing run.
“I really enjoyed it,” admitted the player, who immediately looked assured and helped set up three of Huddersfield’s tries.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve enjoyed my game-time at Featherstone and thanks to them getting me match-fit after 11 months out.
“But to now finally get a chance here was great and to get a win as well, there’s nothing better really.
“Hopefully I’ve done enough to keep a spot for next Friday against Catalans but if not I’ll train hard and try to get back in every week.”
But was he always confident he would get back to Super League level after leaving Wheldon Road in 2017, frustrated by a lack of game-time?
Holmes, 23, admitted: “It was a massive decision for me.
“Obviously, I still had a year left at Castleford and I was only young but I made the choice myself to ask to leave a team that had just won the League Leaders’ Shield.
“I remember (former Widnes Vikings coach and England assistant) Denis Betts talking to me and saying it was one of the bravest decisions he’d seen by a young player.
“But I had confidence in myself and I played some good rugby at Featherstone.
“It was probably the best I’d ever played as I was back enjoying my rugby again.
“I was playing consistent rugby and that’s what I needed. Featherstone helped me last season and obviously I did pick up a major injury but I think I’d done enough.
“Thankfully Huddersfield had set eyes on me and stood by me, even through that injury.
“I’m so grateful and really proud to put the shirt on finally.”
He has had to bide his time with Woolford trying Australian Matt Frawley and youngster Olly Russell alongside Lee Gaskell before finally giving Holmes his shot.
But his pass selection and kicking game was quality as Huddersfield came from 8-0 behind to pull away from joint-bottom.
“It’s a massive win for us,” he said.
“You don’t really look at the league much but last week we had to and we said we don’t want to be in this predicament - fighting for survival.
“Hopefully we can get a win next week and that’ll leave us in good stead.
“We shouldn’t be down there - we’re a good enough side - we just have to find some consistency.
“I had good help from Ukma (Ta’ai), Jake (Wardle and the (Senior) twins on my edge.
“I think it was the forwards who got us rolling. The first 15 minutes we probably struggled to get on the front foot but Olly Wilson, who came on his Super League debut, and Matty English came on and really ramped us up.
“That got us on the front foot and our edge men just did the rest.
“We have got a Olly Russell and Frawls who can play there (No7) so I was really excited when I got chosen. Obviously we’re all really good mates but we all want a spot in the team.
“Hopefully I’ve done enough. The knee felt fine. It’s probably my eighth game back now.
“I just need that confidence in it to start stepping off it a bit more but I think that will come over time and I can get back to playing my best rugby.”