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‘You never felt comfortable’: Jed Holloway opens up about Eddie Jones’ Wallabies

By Finn Morton
Jed Holloway. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Jed Holloway was a Wallabies regular under former coach Dave Rennie. The New South Welshman debuted against the Pumas in 2022 and started at either blindside flanker or lock in all but one of the remaining 10 Tests that year.


Holloway, now 31, played at least 70 minutes in seven of the 10 Tests he played in. It may have taken the utility some time to enter the cauldron that is Test rugby, but it seemed that Holloway had found a home in Australia’s starting side.

But the nature of the Wallabies over the last 18 months or so has been nothing short of unpredictable. Less than 10 days after naming a 44-man squad for a four-day camp on the Gold Coast, coach Dave Rennie was sensationally axed by Rugby Australia.

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Eddie Jones stepped into the role less than eight months out from the Rugby World Cup in France. It was a gamble, but one that many were glad Rugby Australia made.

Jones was supposed to be the saviour that Australian rugby needed.

But what happened in the 10 months that followed was nothing short of shocking. The Wallabies’ form went from bad to worse, international careers were cut short, and unwanted history was made on the sport’s biggest stage.

About 190 days after his most recent appearance in Wallaby gold, Jed Holloway has opened up about the Wallabies’ environment in 2023 and what he thought of coach Jones reportedly interviewing with Japan before the Rugby World Cup.

Holloway started two Test matches at blindside flanker under coach Jones. The Waratahs enforcer started in the No. 6 jumper against Los Pumas and the All Blacks (Melbourne). But in his own words: “Did I feel settled? No.”


“To be honest I don’t think anyone felt settled in just where you lie, especially the older boys, because he was very eager to bring through the young guys,” Holloway told RugbyPass.

“It started to become very evident I think after that South Africa Test over there where he saw they (the Wallabies) needed to go in another direction. Then (Michael) Hoops getting injured, then we lose against the Pumas, and then in the Melbourne Test.

“Don’t get me wrong, in those two Tests I didn’t play anywhere near where I would like to but it was his decision, it’s what he chose to do. He thought the was doing the right thing for Australian rugby.

“It sucks, don’t get me wrong, because as a player you’ve sacrificed so much to try and be there and be in a World Cup – let’s be real about it, it was my last opportunity to do it. So yeah, I was gutted.


“But did I feel settled? I probably never felt settled in there. It was a demanding, hard-working environment.

“I’ve heard the boys say it and it’s true, no one worked harder than Eddie. He was up at all hours of the night messaging and he wanted to get the best out of his players.”

Settle in. This will be a long but important insight into the Australian men’s rugby union team. So, let’s go back to the beginning.

Jones’ second-stint with the Wallabies began against defending world champions South Africa in Pretoria. The menacing Loftus Versfeld was the arena for a night that was months in the making.


Fullback Tom Wright paved the way for wing Marika Koroibete to score the opener at the South African venue. It was a golden start from the men wearing the jerseys to match.

But a Test isn’t won at the beginning. South Africa went on to win The Rugby Championship clash by an emphatic 43-12 margin which promoted the change Holloway spoke about above.

Generation-next was thrown into the deep end but it couldn’t save the Wallabies from a series of defeats. Australia were beaten by Argentina, and New Zealand both home and away before the Rugby World Cup squad was named on August 10.

“There was definitely conversations amongst older boys and just around those Test matches, around the direction he was going in and some of the conversations he did have, and they’d filter back through it,” Holloway added when asked about what the senior players said amongst themselves.

“Just reminiscing now, it’s kind of hard to put words on the emotions or feeling. It was a strange sort of thing because after that New Zealand Test, we came in and trained for two days and then we found out at the nighttime that we weren’t getting picked (for the World Cup).

“You never felt comfortable. I kind of had a feeling it was coming. I think a couple of other boys, Quade’s talked about him sensing it was coming as well.

“It’s hard to put words on. You always want to go outside yourself to try, in my area lineouts and stuff like that, to try and get a feeling from other coaches and stuff like that where we stood. He kept it all pretty close to his chest.

“You could definitely get the urge that something was coming and then it kind of got dropped on us at once.”

Len Ikitau was in the same boat as Holloway. The world-class outside centre had been injured against Argentina in Sydney but appeared to be tracking towards a return in time for the Rugby World Cup in France.

But just as Ikitau revealed in an interview with Nathan Williamson from last month, the call from coach Jones came late – very late.

It got to the point where Holloway connected the dots. He knew he wasn’t in the Wallabies’ World Cup squad,  but there was no message or call from coach Jones yet.

Holloway put his phone down and got away from rugby for a bit before finally speaking with coach Eddie Jones at 9:30 pm at night.

“Similar to Lenny. The boys all found out they made it and me and another player were texting each other and we’re like, ‘Well, we understand we haven’t made it now, but when are we going to get a phone call?’

“Then we reached out to the GM and he’s like ‘Eddie will call you later.’

“I just needed to get away from it all so I went and did a swimming competition with my local surf lifesaving club just to get around people and get my mind off it.

“I got out of the pool and had a missed call from him (Eddie Jones) and had a couple of messages saying ‘you didn’t make the final 33, give us a call’ and then called him and he let me know that I didn’t make it.

“I guess he was kind of in a rush to get around to as many that he could… I think he was doing a few things at the time which have been noted.”

The Wallabies went on to bow out of the World Cup before the quarter-finals for the first time ever. Australia beat Georgia in their opening game, but historic defeats to Fiji and Wales left the Wallabies with their backs up against the ropes.


But to make it all worse, hours before the Wallabies’ clash with the Welsh at Lyon’s OL Stadium, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that coach Jones had interviewed for the soon-to-be-vacant Japan head coach role before the World Cup.

“I was pissed off, to be honest with you,” Holloway explained.

“Whenever you performed badly they questioned your commitment and the coaches sometimes do that, review what you do as a player leading up to it.

“For a significant milestone which is the World Cup, which I think it’s in every rugby players thing as the main thing circled that they want to be a part of, to hear the person leading your team is having interviews with people… ended a lot of international careers. It sucked. It sucked.

“It takes a special kind of person to do that. (That’s the) best I can put it.”

In the end, their hopes of a Houdini-esque escape were dashed when Portugal failed to beat the Flying Fijians by eight or more in the final pool stage match of the tournament.

Australia were off home and Eddie Jones has since signed on as Japan’s new head coach.

History was made for all the wrong reasons in 2023.


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