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Thread: La Rochelle’s Holmes relishing rise to the top

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    La Rochelle’s Holmes relishing rise to the top

    Exclusive: After finishing ninth in the Top 14 last season, La Rochelle are now only a single point away from claiming the top spot in France. Utility back Zack Holmes says it all comes down to more belief in the team and away wins.

    In terms of away victories, equal with Montpellier, La Rochelle are top of the table: they’ve gained three this season, including a huge five-try win against Bayonne. Holmes began playing for the French side in 2015 and he puts their success in his second and final season with the club down to these three victories.

    “We didn’t win any games away from home last year so we struggled to move up the table,” Holmes said.

    “This season, we’ve won three away games, which for here is quite impressive. It’s very important to win at home but the ability to take points away from home is what has helped us.”

    French sides of course are famously strong on their home turf; current leaders Clermont have won every single one of their games at the Stade Marcel Michelin since August. It seems French fans are encouraged by success, as figures published earlier this year showed both Clermont and La Rochelle’s average crowds have risen this season. Holmes admitted the fans play a big part in home wins.

    “It’s the most noise I’ve experienced playing rugby, they’re very vocal,” he explained.

    “More than any of the other French crowds I’ve experienced so you don’t want to disappoint. In my first game for the club, we lost and there was some booing from the crowd.”

    Holmes certainly must have found favour with the fans this season, given that his kicking has secured victory for La Rochelle on several occasions. In November, the Australian kept his nerve against Toulouse to score two late penalties and a 25-19 win – an important result against the side he will join next season.

    Life in the Top 14 obviously suits Holmes, especially as it offers him more game time than he enjoyed back in Super Rugby with the Brumbies and Force.

    “I found there was a lack of opportunity with Super Rugby, I didn’t play as much as I wanted. I’ve almost played 50 games in France now; I’ve played more games here than I ever played in Australia,” he added.

    Read more: http://www.planetrugby.com/news/la-r...se-to-the-top/

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    Veteran valzc's Avatar
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    After being dropped in favour of the not so spectacular Peter Grant, Zack has reason to feel hard done by. Thought he played really well at the Force, and don't understand why he wasn't utilised more - yet another perplexing decision by the Force last season on not making the most of talent we already had.

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