Belfast Telegraph

Patience proves a virtue as proud Holland handed chance to shine

By Cian Tracey

It's not that long ago that Billy Holland was facing a decision that an increasing number of young Irish players are having to deal with: stay at your club and fight for your place, or take up a contract offer from abroad.

He chose to stay but with the likes of Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll and Donnacha Ryan all ahead of him in the Munster pecking order, you can understand his reasoning for keeping his options open.

It has required a huge amount of patience but having been a standout player for Munster in recent years, Holland has been rewarded by being handed his Ireland debut against Canada.

There were times when Holland had thought his dream of following in his father's footsteps had gone, but tomorrow he gets the chance to fulfil a lifelong ambition.

His father Jerry was capped three times by Ireland in the 1980s before becoming a key figure in Munster.

Holland's family is steeped in rugby history - his grandfather Redmond was once a Munster selector.

"It is a huge honour for my family," Holland enthuses.

"My mother is going mental! I am delighted, I am excited but she is going mental.

"My father was on a tour of South Africa which he had to quit his job for and because of apartheid there was a lot of controversy over whether the Irish team should go or not.

"He was recently married and quit his job - I don't think the mother was too happy about it. He was just married and headed off for two or three months to South Africa."

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