Don't underestimate our scrum
Waratahs front row forward Harry Johnson-Holmes has warned the Blues could pay the price for underestimating his team’s scrum, if they target him because of his lack of experience at tighthead prop.
The 22-year-old is available for Saturday’s match being played in his home city of Newcastle, after he missed the opening round clash away to the Crusades due to illness.
The Tahs had some issues with the scrum on the weekend, with coach Matt Cockbain admitting as much.
Johnson-Holmes, who won his sole Wallabies cap last year, will add more depth, even though he is likely to play in an unfamiliar position.
He spent most of last year at loosehead but has switched to the other side of the scrum with Waratahs and Wallabies’ stalwart Sekope Kepu moving overseas.
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“I’ve flipped over to tighthead to help out their stocks there which I’ve been very excited about,” he said.
“I’m obviously going to need to have a few lessons there, I suppose there might be some days where I’m under the pump a bit.
“But we’ve been training to problem solve on the go.
“Whilst new at tighthead I’ve got the experience there from the training paddock and blokes like Belly (scrum coach Mark Bell ) and the other lads helping me out to come up with the goods.”
Asked if he thought the Blues might target him he said: “I’d imagine so. I don’t think there’s a lot of footage (of me at tighthead) for them to check out,” Johnson-Holmes said.
“But I think that could work in my favour if they are underestimating how we’re going to work as a front row. I’ve been pretty happy with how we’ve scrummaged pre-season.”
Lock/blindside flank Ned Hanigan missed the Crusaders game with concussion and Cockbain said the Tahs were taking a cautious approach with him, even though the forward had been cleared by a specialist.
He expected Wallabies back row forward Jack Dempsey to push for a starting spot soon, after providing impact off the bench last weekend.
The Blues will also be coming off a first-round loss and Cockbain said the Tahs were preparing for what the described as that side’s brand of organised chaos.
“That ability to counter-attack, they can all run and pass the ball very well,” Cockbain said.