HARRY Johnson-Holmes has backed energy and enthusiasm to overcome any lack of experience when the Waratahs kick off the new Super Rugby AU season with a grudge match against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Johnson-Holmes has emerged as one of the senior figures in a fresh-faced Waratahs in 2021.
No Michael Hooper, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Rob Simmons or Ned Hanigan. Kurtley Beale is long gone. Certainly no Israel Folau. With them have gone more than 800 Tests worth of experience and the swagger that accompanies the biggest names in Australian rugby.
The lack of star power is a scenario the Newcastle tighthead prop is confident will be reversed.
For now it's an advantage.
"Tane Edmed, Carlo Tizzano ... you talk to punters on the street and one of the first things they say is that they don't recognise any of these new blokes," Johnson-Holmes said.
"I presume that is probably the same chat around the locker rooms at the other franchises. They will try and prepare for a bunch of blokes they will struggle to find footage about.
"Obviously we want to get back that respect and start making sure the punters on the street know who we are. We are not concerned with the fact that we are lacking a bit of experience.
"We are excited for the fact that we have all these new blokes who are really keen to represent their state. It is a really fresh vibe.
"It does work in our favour that we are a bit of the unknown.
"As we preview the Reds and for the Brumbies, we have a lot of footage we can check out. The other teams can't say the same thing.
"In terms of personnel, we are pretty excited to unleash some really talented blokes."
Johnson-Holmes, at 23 and in his fourth season of Super Rugby, is one of the more experienced Tahs alongside captain Jake Gordon, Jack Dempsey and Alex Newsome.
"We have a really young squad," he said.
"It means some of the blokes who have been around a bit longer get leaned on a little bit more. I'm in the leadership group which is something I'm stoked to be a part of.
"It is probably more leading by example and showing the new guys how we like to play at the Tahs and what our standards are."
After a block-building 2020 Super Rugby AU campaign, Johnson-Holmes spent three months in camp with the Wallabies.
While the 116-kilogram bookend didn't add to his Test resume, his game developed, especially at the set piece, where he can play loosehead or tighthead.
"The feedback was really positive around my versatility and being able to play both sides and get around the field well," he said.
"It is a tough proposition, but I have come to the realisation that if I want to stay in the Test fold and pressure them for selection, I have to be world class at both sides.
"If the opportunity arises, it is not a matter of he is world class at loosehead and OK at tighthead or vice versa.
"I'm still chipping away at the dark arts of tighthead and getting used to the transition. I have had the full season now and am starting to feel comfortable on that side. If I can get some good performances there it will only help my chances come Test time."
First is Super Rugby, starting with Friday's blockbuster against old foes Queensland.
"The Reds have gone through a few years similar to what we are going through," Johnson-Holmes said. "They have a young group who is starting to find a good flow and consistency.
"In the past, before I came along, NSW had a really good record against the Reds. We held the Templeton Cup for eight years or something. They won it last year. Credit to them, they have had an impressive turnaround in the past couple of years with a young group of blokes.
"As a New South Welshman, I don't like to see Queensland doing well at anything."