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‘It was funny’: Wallaby Jed Holloway ready for ‘world-class’ Pablo Matera

By Finn Morton
Australia's Wallabies flanker Jed Holloway (C) is tackled by Argentina's Los Pumas prop Thomas Gallo (L) and teammate N8 Pablo Matera during their Rugby Championship match at Bicentenario stadium in San Juan, Argentina on August 13, 2022. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP) (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

Jed Holloway will run out onto CommBank Stadium for his first Wallabies appearance in more than 230 days this weekend, and a tough challenge awaits the flanker out in the middle.

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After missing out on selection for the Wallabies’ opening match of The Rugby Championship – which they lost by an emphatic margin against South Africa – Holloway has earned a promotion.

The Wallabies announced their side to take on Michael Cheila’s Pumas outfit earlier this week, and Holloway was named at blindside flanker.

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The Waratahs enforcer will lineup alongside rising star Fraser McReight and world-class backrower Rob Valetini in a new-look Wallabies loose forward trio.

But Holloway faces an extremely tough matchup on Saturday.

Los Pumas have named a formidable back row as well, which includes Super Rugby champion Pablo Matera at blindside flanker.

Despite the scoreline, Matera was impressive during Argentina’s loss to the All Blacks in Mendoza last weekend – not that that’s a surprise.

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Matera is world-class, and has been brilliant for quite some time.

“It’s exciting mate, it’s really exciting. I actually played against Pablo in the Australian Under 20s,” Holloway remembered.

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“It was funny, I was watching them play on the same field, I think it was against Ireland when the weather was exactly the same, and Pablo put on a clinic that day.

“He’s a competitor, he fires into everything, he’s super skilful. I’ve got to match him in the areas that I’m good at; set-piece-wise, ball carry and physicality.

“We’re different players but as you said, he’s world-class. I’m excited to put myself to that standard.”

Matera will take his place at blindside flanker this weekend, and joins Santiago Grondona and Juan Martin Gonzalez in a powerful backrow.

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Los Pumas will be led by Julian Montoya out onto the field in Parramatta, and joins the likes of Francisco Gomez Kodela and Tomas Lavanini in the forwards.

This is an experienced forward pack, and a talented one too. They’ll be desperate to make amends following their loss to the All Blacks last weekend – and the Wallabies expect nothing less.

Following the Wallabies’ captain’s run at the stadium on Friday, assistant coach Neal Hatley revealed he rates the Pumas “pretty highly” compared to forward packs around the world.

“Last week they struggled a bit so knowing a bit about Michael Cheika I’m sure there’ll be some bounce back as well,” Hatley said.

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“We expect them to come out and be very physical. I think they’ve done exceptionally well over the last two or three years on the back of how physical their forwards pack’s been, and even their backs.

“You know what you’re getting so it’s going to be a great challenge to see how basically both sides respond.”

The Wallabies take on Argentina at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium at 7.45 pm AEST on Saturday evening. Earlier, the All Blacks host the Springboks in a highly anticipated Test in Auckland.

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