NOTHING is likely to rival the moment Harry Johnson-Holmes made his Wallabies debut against South Africa at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, last year.
But playing for his country at home in Newcastle would be "one of the most magical moments on the field" the 23-year-old prop could experience..
Johnson-Holmes is part of a 44-man Wallabies squad named to play two Bledisloe Cup Test matches against the All Blacks in New Zealand next month.
That series will be followed by the Rugby Championships involving Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
The Rugby Championship will be played over six weeks, with double-headers each Saturday night. McDonald Jones Stadium is one of three venues in NSW expected to be used during the series.
Johnson-Holmes has played two games for the NSW Waratahs in Newcastle.
"Any time you get an opportunity to represent your country is special, whether it is Johannesburgh, Newcastle or wherever," Johnson-Holmes said.
"I have heard those whispers around McDonald Jones Stadium. We will wait for the schedule to come out, then I will start setting my heart on different cameos. It would be one of the most magical moments on the field ... I just want to play as much as I can for my country. It is something I really value and to get an opportunity to be in the [match day] squad would be special."
Johnson-Holmes is one of eight props in a fresh-faced squad for the first series under new coach Dave Rennie.
The flame-haired tyro had a strong campaign at tighthead for the NSW Waratahs in Super Rugby Au. But for the Wallabies he is more likely to pack down at loosehead, where he made his debut off the bench in a 35-17 loss to the Springboks.
Other looseheads in the squad are James Slipper (96 Tests), Scott Sio (63) and uncapped NSW teammate Angus Bell. The tightheads are Allan Alaatatoa (37), Tanila Tupou (19), Jermaine Ainsley (3) and Pone Fa'amausili (0).
"I had a brief conversation with Dave about a month ago," Johnson-Holmes said. "He was interested in whether I see myself as a loosehead or tighthead. Moreso just clarifying that I am still comfortable in the loosehead role, which I assured him I was. Beyond that it was few positives about what I bought to the contact zone around defence and carries in close.
"I'm looking forward to meeting the coach in person. For me, it is getting my head around how the coaches want to play and questioning what they need out of me. Then hopefully being able to show that on the training pitch. I need to be able to show, not only parity, but dominance at training. I was tracking pretty well with the loosehead stuff last year and felt pretty comfortable come the Wallabies debut."
The Rugby Championship consists of six Tests in six weeks and due to COVID-19 restrictions only players in the extended squad can be used.
"With a big squad I anticipate they will utilise the advantage of being able to keep blokes fresh." Johnson-Holmes said. "I'd like to think there is opportunity there for rotation."
Johnson-Holmes was eating a chicken schnitzel at a pub in Paddington when he got the call from then Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to jump on a plane for South Africa.
On Monday, he was having breakfast at home when the call came.
"We were told we would find out the morning of the announcement so it was pretty stressful sitting around pretending that I wasn't waiting for that call," Johnson-Holmes said. "The cost cuts have hit me pretty hard. I was having eggs on toast, but they were good none the less."
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.