Darcy Swain admits he took things for granted as he sat beside the experienced Sam Carter and the abrasive Rory Arnold.
Because when the ACT Brumbies returned to club headquarters for pre-season training, he turned to ask his senior teammates a question and nobody was there to answer it.
So now the 22-year-old lock is determined to become a leader in his own right as the Brumbies embark on a new era in search of Super Rugby success.
Swain has set his sights on forcing his way into Dan McKellar's starting XV as he prepares to jostle for a place in the second row with the likes of Blake Enever and Murray Douglas.
Caderyn Neville and emerging prospect Nick Frost will also join McKellar's rotation.
The chance to step up has rarely been bigger following the departures of Carter and Arnold - and it is one Swain will certainly not be taking for granted.
"It's definitely different. You look to ask a question and they're not here anymore," Swain said.
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"I guess I sort of took for granted the experience of Carts and the abrasiveness of Rory. I'm trying to adapt that into my game and move forward now, and become a bit of a leader myself.
"Obviously I look to older guys too, and when Pistol [Pete Samu] comes back, he is someone I looked up to as well as Bobby [Rob Valetini], who is quite young and a bit cheeky sometimes, but Bobby's a bit of a leader too.
"Myself and Blake Enever call line-outs so we have a bit of a responsibility there to get knowledge across to the group.
"[We have to] be a character within ourselves so the boys don't go missing and [wonder], 'who are we asking questions to?'
"I'm being firm there and being able to lead my own pack, as well as Blake leading his own pack and us colliding, coming together, doing review and trying to grow as a group.
"It is really going to benefit us in the long-term coming into next season.
"It's going to be hugely important for myself just to keep my head down and keep working hard.
"There are still a few things I need to do and I need to get better too, so I'm just working away day by day."
Former NRL player Solomone Kata headlines a list of new faces on the Brumbies roster following the loss of several key stars.
But Swain says the prospect of starting a Super Rugby campaign without the likes of Christian Lealiifano, David Pocock, Henry Speight, Carter and Arnold is anything but daunting.
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Instead he is relishing the chance to play a lead role having spent the bulk of the National Rugby Championship season issuing reminders about his potential.
That is despite an injury-induced frustrating three weeks on a personal note which rounded out the competition.
"There's a good vibe this year, there is a young demographic across the group," Swain said.
"Everyone is just trying to prove themselves and rip in, so it has been a good couple of weeks.
"They bring a new vibe to the group, coming from different parts of Australia and we've got Solomone from league so it's pretty exciting."