A clash between Australia and Argentina in Newcastle this November may present a special opportunity for one of the region’s homegrown stars.
Wallabies prop-forward Harry Johnson-Holmes grew up in Newcastle, attending Merewether High School and playing for the Newcastle Wanderers as a junior.
Now playing professionally for the NSW Waratahs, the 23-year-old expressed his excitement at men’s Test rugby coming to the Hunter for the first time since 2012.
“I’ve obviously [played] a couple of games now through the [NSW] Waratahs in Newcastle and that in itself was really special and something I really treasured,” he said.
“The opportunity to do so at [the] international stage and represent my country in front of my hometown and friends and family will be a dream come true.
“Regardless of whether or not I’m playing, it’s really good that Newcastle’s getting the recognition it deserves around what it can provide as a world-class town with world-class facilities, with one of the best rugby communities in the country.
“I think it’s really cool that they’re getting that recognition and reaping the benefits of these big fixtures coming to inspire the younger generation and keep rugby strong in Newcastle.”
Johnson-Holmes made his Test debut for the Wallabies in 2019 against South-Africa at Ellis Park after being called up at the 12th hour.
“I think I got there on a Thursday and played on Saturday, which is pretty hard to deal with, jet lag, adjusting to altitude and learning line out plays,” he said.
“It gave me a good taste for what Test footy is like, and gave me a good headspace that I could perform on an international stage.”
Johnson-Holmes participated in a truncated Super Rugby season this year, but said he was grateful just to be on the field.
“It’s probably been as bizarre as most professions are,” he said.
“It’s been a good silver-lining to get through what’s been a very difficult year with a fair bit of footy under our belts.
“By the end of it we’ve been able to play a full season of the comp in Super Rugby and now Test footy, it’s all a bit of a bonus given that it was looking pretty far-fetched at some point that footy was going to be played.”
Johnson-Holmes is also a keen musician, playing across Newcastle in his younger days with his band Geography of Mars, or “the second coming of Silverchair” as he called it.
He said that he’s not the only one who’s musically minded amongst the Wallabies squad.
“Funnily enough Dave Rennie, the coach of the Wallabies, is pretty reasonable on the guitar, and he’s made the team pretty musical,” he said.
“Filipo Daugunu is pretty handy on the strings as well, I’d be interested to see what our genre would be.
“It’s cool to be able to mix with a few blokes who’ve got a musical background.”
Australia will take on Argentina on Saturday 21 November at McDonald Jones Stadium from 7.45pm.
Visit the Wallabies’ website for more information or to buy tickets.