The Qantas Wallabies train at Wests Bulldogs Rugby Union Club, Brisbane. Harry Johnson-Holmes. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley
The Qantas Wallabies train at Wests Bulldogs Rugby Union Club, Brisbane. Harry Johnson-Holmes. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley

$8 schnitty night to surprise Wallaby call-up

Harry Johnson-Holmes was just rushed away from $8 Schnitty Night at Sydney's Lord Dudley hotel to belt out the national anthem for the Wallabies yet plenty of mates are on a countdown to hear him.

Surprise Wallaby call-ups are part of the wonderful fabric of the game and this rookie red-haired prop is another after being summoned to solve a prop crisis in Johannesburg.

His head is still spinning, not from jet lag but what it means to be suddenly rushed into the Test reserves to face South Africa's giant pack early on Sunday morning (AEST).

He has a cult following already for his ability to belt out an animated tune at rugby functions, courtesy of his days on bass guitar with a band in his rugby home town of Newcastle.

How that translates to a memorable anthem rendition is anyone's guess.

"I was hoping maybe to get up on the podium to do kinda the guest singing of it...lead the boys out with the microphone," Johnson-Holmes said with a grin.

"It's looking less and less likely so I'll just have to sing as loud as I can from the line-up.

"I'm very proud to get the opportunity to sing that anthem along with some childhood heroes in a stage like Ellis Park which I imagine is going to be pretty magical."

That's not where this crazy week started for "HJH", who was calmly tucking into his pub grub on Tuesday night when Wallabies coach Michael Cheika rocked him.

 

 

"I'm all numb at the moment, trying to figure it all out," Johnson-Holmes said.

"I'd just finished Sydney Uni training and was sitting down for $8 Schnitty Night at the Lord Dudley (in Paddington) with my roommate.

"I had a few missed calls and messages and ended up calling a number I didn't have saved. It turned out to be Cheik

"He told me to put down my knife and fork and get packed and get ready to come over.

"Here I am."

Johnson-Holmes, 22, started in the NSW Waratahs' front-row this year when Tom Robertson was injured and three grounded Wallabies props have opened this Test chance.

"HJH" wasn't even sure he'd got the message straight after finishing the Cheika phone call.

"He mentioned it (being in the bench) but it was so hectic at the time I wasn't sure what I'd heard and what I'd missed," Johnson-Holmes said.

"Or whether it was a fragment (sic) of my imagination."

His first training session in Johannesburg clarified it: "It's great to see the boys flicked into gear and be part of it."

NSW Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes during his days as a bass player with the band Geography of Mars
NSW Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes during his days as a bass player with the band Geography of Mars

Johnson-Holmes' best scrums are spot-on but it's lack of consistency he must cure for this Test.

Singing the anthem will help calm the nerves.

"I'm sure I'll only realise what's happening when I step out onto the field if that happens," he said.

He will, as Cheika added: "He's going to have so much motivation, adrenaline.

"He's gone from sitting in the Lord Dudley having a steak (sic) and now he's here and going to play a Test match."

Allan Alaalatoa (foot) hadn't scrummed in training, Scott Sio (adductor muscle) did plenty before his niggle and so did Robertson (ankle), before his training injury which will sideline him for at least two Tests.

News Corp Australia


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