Exeter's Holmes returns to Australia with Western Force


London (AFP)

Prop Greg Holmes has ended his four-year stint with the Exeter Chiefs to return to his native Australia on a short-term contract with the Western Force, the English Premiership club said Saturday.

The 37-year-old former Wallaby front-row had been set to retire at the end of the current English season, but the coronavirus pandemic has seen him change his plans.

He will end his playing career representing the Force in a revised Super Rugby tournament in Australia set to start in July.

"In my head I was going to finish my career with the Chiefs, retire and then move on to the next stage of my life," Holmes, who won a Premiership title in his first season with Exeter, told the club's website.

"Obviously, COVID-19 stopped all of that, not just for me, but for people around the world. It's certainly been strange times for all of us and it's meant that I won't be able to finish here in Exeter as I wanted."

Holmes, who won the last of his 27 Australia caps in 2016, added: "Some of my fondest rugby memories have come from my time here in Exeter and I'm just so glad I've been able to experience what I have -- and be a small part in what has been a successful period for the club."

Looking ahead to playing for the Perth-based Force, Holmes said: "It's an opportunity I wasn't expecting.

"This is a chance to make the trip home a little easier, but at the same time go out playing."