There’ll be plenty of veterans missing from the Reds and Waratahs lineups on Saturday night but NSW lock Dean Mumm says the focus should be on who is there, not who’s gone.
Queensland and NSW waved goodbye to a handful of experienced internationals over summer.
It’s arguably the Reds who have suffered more, losing their halves combination of Will Genia and Quade Cooper as well as captain James Horwill but Mumm said absentees wouldn’t matter on Saturday night.
“They’ve lost...people who have been here for a long time but we’ve lost Sekope (Kepu) and Adam Ashley-Cooper, lost a wealth of experience on that front,” he said.
“It’s not about who you’ve lost, it’s about a new season, it’s about who you’ve got.
“Come Saturday night that’s the only thing that really matters.”
The Waratahs have won the past four clashes between the interstate rivals, including one by a record margin in 2014, when they went on to win the Super Rugby title.
Despite their dominant record, Mumm said the Waratahs wouldn’t be taking any mental edge into the match.
“Coming into a new year it’s not super relevant,” he said.
“Through history, the Reds have dominated, the Waratahs have dominated and vice versa and at any moment in time that can change.
“So, the main thing for us is coming into a new year with new squads and new teams on both sides, it’s important to try and get off on the right foot."
In some senses Mumm is one of those new faces, likely to start for the Waratahs for the first time since a three-year stint with UK side Exeter.
Though he was in Waratahs colours in the back end of the 2015 season, Mumm said he felt he could play a more prominent role this season.
“Last year I was probably jumping on the back of a squad that’s set and this year you’re part of a squad you’re helping to form,” he said.
Mumm said he expected their combinations to still need some refining as the opening month of the season goes on.
“Early games and trials are about trying new combinations, new systems and I think the new factor is the intent and the intensity of the way you do it,” he said.
“The combinations will build over 3-4 weeks and that’s when you’ll start to see things really gel and really hum from there."