Jonah Holmes: Wales call-up 'a huge honour' says Leicester wing

Jonah Holmes in action against Scarlets
Jonah Holmes played in Leicester Tigers' 45-27 over Scarlets in the the Champions Cup

Wales newcomer Jonah Holmes says he will be excited to join up with the national squad for training on Monday after his shock call-up.

The Leicester Tigers wing was the surprise name in Warren Gatland's 37-man squad for November's Tests.

Stockport-born Holmes, 25, said his qualification comes through his grandmother.

"My grandmother brought me up, my nanna Rachel (Jenkins) from Cwmllynfell near the Black Mountains," he explained.

"She was a huge part of my life and a massive influence on my whole family.

"It's a shame she's not around any more, she passed away a couple of years ago but this is a huge honour for me.

"If she was alive today, she'd be very proud."

Holmes has been picked for impressive form at wing and full-back for Leicester Tigers, featuring at 15 in his side's Champions Cup win over Scarlets on Friday.

Taking his chance

Wales head coach Gatland said Holmes had been on the register of Welsh exiles playing in England since 2016, but the player himself said he had been pushing his case for longer.

He wins a place in the autumn series squad in the absence of the injured Hallam Amos, Tom Prydie and Owen Lane.

Although he is not available for the opening game against Scotland on 3 November - the match falls outside the official international window - he could get a chance against Tonga in the third game.

"I've had various communications with several people (in Wales) for five or six years, but nothing's really come of it," Holmes said in his first media interview since selection.

"My agent's been pushing for it, I'm thankful it's come about, and if I get a chance then I will take it."

Holmes played as a scrum-half for Wasps, but was switched to wing during a loan spell at London Welsh by coach Lyn Jones, who suggested a similar move for Wales' record try-scorer Shane Williams.

Jonah Holmes wearing London Welsh colours in 2012
Jonah Holmes spent a loan spell with London Welsh during the 2012-13 season

"I started the professional game at scrum-half, then Lyn Jones moved me to the back three, he said I might do all right there," Holmes added.

"Then I moved to (Yorkshire) Carnegie on loan where James Lowes developed me.

"I was close to retiring before I went to Carnegie, it just wasn't happening for me at Wasps, as it does for many players, but I found my love for rugby again under James Lowes."

Holmes got one over on many of his new Wales team-mates as Leicester Tigers beat Scarlets 45-27 in the European Champions Cup, though Jonathan Davies held him up over the line to prevent him getting on the score-sheet himself.

He has no worries about his first training camp with Wales.

"I don't know many of them, but I hear they're a really good bunch and from my experience of every Welshman I've met, it's usually good," Holmes said.

"I'll be excited to get there. I'll just get my head down and do what I can do, hopefully it works... and of course I know the anthem already."

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