NSW assistant coach Simon Cron reckons prop Harry Johnson-Holmes is the future of Australian rugby.
But for now, the Tahs forwards coach simply wants Johnson-Holmes and fellow Novocastrian, lock Nick Palmer to ‘do their job’.
Johnson-Holmes and Palmer are in line to make their Super Rugby debut for the Tahs against the Stormers in the season opener at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
“They are ready,” Cron told the Herald. “Both have been with the group long enough to know their roles within the team structures. Our message is pretty clear: do your job but highlight the areas you are good at. Harry has been really good up to now. He is the future of Australian rugby and one of the up and coming front-rowers.”
Recently turned 20, Johnson-Holmes is in his first year of senior rugby. A Wanderers junior, he played under Cron in the Australian under-20s last year, and showed enough in pre-season hit outs against the Highlanders and Melbourne Rebels to give the coaching staff confidence.
“Harry is phenomenally strong for his age,” Cron said. “He is one of our biggest lifters in the gym. Technically, he is a really good attacking loose head and, in the right scrum combination, goes really well. The biggest thing now for him at this level is the other stuff; the contact zone, the carries and tackle technique.”
Cron coached Palmer at Sydney club Norths before the two-time Newcastle premiership winner with Hamilton headed to Hawkes Bay for a stint in the New Zealand Provincial Championships.
“He has worked really hard to get to where he is and is a real asset to any squad,”Cron said. “He had chronic fatigue and tore his hamstring off the bone. All of this stuff has built a pretty resilient human being. He is a tough nut but he is also very dynamic. For a big guy he is quick, has good ball skills and really high energy. When you need someone to lift the boys and keep driving them to succeed, he is that guy. In the next two to three years he will only continue to get better.”
The Novocastrians are among five newcomers in a Tahs side spearheaded by Wallabies Michael Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Israel Folau and Ned Hanigan.
" He is the future of Australian rugby and one of the up and coming front-rowers.”- Simon Cron
Hanigan won 12 Test caps in his first full season of senior rugby in 2017, and has been impressed by the fresh faces.
"They are bringing new energy and new excitement," Hanigan said. "If you get an opportunity you are going to grab it with both hands and those guys are definitely going to do it."
The Stormers over-powered the Jaguares 28-20 at Newlands last week and boast a big and combative pack.