Watch Huddersfield take on Hull KR in the crucial Super League clash live on Sky Sports Arena from 7pm on Friday
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 16/07/19 6:10pm
Tom Holmes joined Featherstone in 2018 in search of regular rugby
Tom Holmes’ off-field roles have helped him develop on the field as the Huddersfield Giants half-back tries to establish himself as a Super League regular.
The 23-year-old coaches at amateur club Cutsyke Raiders in the Yorkshire Men’s Premier Division and has been helping oversee the Yorkshire Lionhearts team for this week’s matches against Serbia.
Holmes combined playing for Championship side Featherstone Rovers last year with working in the club’s community department too, channelling his energy into both of those coaching positions when a season-ending knee injury struck.
Hull K R vs Huddersfield Giants
July 19, 2019, 7:00pm
Seeing the game from a different perspective during the recovery process gave him some valuable insights he has since been able to apply to playing, which is now reaping rewards after earning a place back in Super League with the Giants.
“When I got my injury, I learned a lot about myself as a player,” Holmes told Sky Sports. “I coach at an amateur team and I think that helped me off the field as well.
“I had some tough times off the field and my partner and family helped me through them, but I think coaching has made me look at the game differently.
Holmes made his Huddersfield bow against Salford three weeks ago
“As well as having time off, I think it’s helped me develop as a player looking at it from a different aspect, and I think I’ve come back a bit more mature.”
Holmes is well-acquainted with the rigours of the full-time game, having come through the scholarship system at hometown club Castleford Tigers to earn a professional contract.
But after the 2017 season, he made the difficult choice to drop down to part-time Featherstone in search of regular game time after being in and out of the Tigers side – despite having one year left on his contract.
Holmes runs in a try for Castleford against Leeds at the 2017 Magic Weekend in Newcastle
It was a move which left some people baffled, but Holmes was in no doubt it was the right one and his decision was vindicated when Huddersfield came calling with the offer of a three-year contract after being impressed by his displays at the LD Nutrition Stadium.
“I still had a year left at Castleford and at the time we had just won the League Leaders’ Shield and people though it was a bit of a weird decision by me,” Holmes said.
“For me, I wanted to back myself and play consistent rugby and I wasn’t getting that at Castleford. I played near-on 20 Super League games, but I wanted to play every week and I should be doing that [number of games] in a season.
I had some tough times off the field and my partner and family helped me through them, but I think coaching has made me look at the game differently.
“Featherstone were a great club, they were really good to me and I played my best rugby. I started enjoying my rugby again, I played consistently and at my age that’s what you need to be doing to get better.
“I think I did my job well and finally got myself back into Super League, but it took a lot of long time and hard work, and I’m happy to be back.”
Even so, Holmes has had to bide his time at the Giants and returned to Rovers on loan for seven games earlier in 2019 to get some minutes under his belt.
Highlights as Huddersfield won comprehensively at Salford on Holmes’ debut
But three weeks ago, he was handed his chance for Huddersfield by head coach Simon Woolford, helping the Super League strugglers to a crucial 36-18 victory away to Salford Red Devils live on Sky Sports.
Holmes retained his place for last week’s 32-28 defeat at home to Catalans Dragons and, all being well, should be in the side again when they face Hull Kingston Rovers in front of the Sky Sports cameras again in Friday’s all-important relegation battle at KCOM Craven Park.
He is likely to find himself up against rugby league icon Danny McGuire, who played a starring role in the Robins’ 32-16 win over his former side Leeds Rhinos last week, and Holmes is hoping for a repeat of when they faced each other for their old clubs at Magic Weekend in Newcastle two years ago.
Danny McGuire is likely to be Holmes’ opposite number on Friday
“He’s a legend of the game, and I’ve played against him before and I’m honoured to play against him,” Holmes said.
“Last time, we came out on top (29-18) when I played for Castleford at Magic Weekend, so I’m looking forward to it.
“They have got some great players like Danny McGuire, who is a leader of their team and who you have got to look out for.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully playing against McGuire and Drinkwater because they’re two big half-backs, and as a young player they are people you want to strive to be like. Hopefully I will get one over on them, which will be my job.”