Baby Waratahs' new skipper Gordon defiant

New captain Jake Gordon is bullish about the NSW Waratahs' chances despite their lack of experience for the Super Rugby AU season.

Jake Gordon can lean on just one game of captaincy experience after taking over the leadership of a NSW Waratahs squad banking on youthful talent to offset big losses.

The Wallabies halfback will skipper a squad stripped of experience and its usual star power, with Michael Hooper's Japanese club deal ruling him out for the entire Super Rugby season and leaving them without a single member of their 2014 title-winning side.

Last year's captain Rob Simmons (London Irish) has joined Kurtley Beale (France's Racing 92) in Europe, while the Waratahs chose not to extend tri-code veteran Karmichael Hunt's contract.

Hunt's departure was a call coach Rob Penney described as "heart-tearingly" tough, but a nod to their regeneration efforts.

It's left 27-year-old Gordon, who boasts 55 Waratahs caps, five Wallabies appearances and one game as captain at second-tier NRC level two years ago, in charge.

Last year's finalists Queensland Reds and the Brumbies enter Super Rugby AU largely unchanged - the Reds welcoming NRL star winger Suliasi Vunivalu to an all-star backline - while the Western Force have been bolstered by high-profile domestic and international additions.

Asked why the Waratahs shouldn't be written off as easy-beats this season, Gordon was happy to oblige.

"Last time you guys wrote us off, when we played the Reds we won 45-12," he quipped of their record hammering of Queensland at the SCG, in which Gordon scored three times.

"To be honest I don't really care; we have a great bunch of young guys with extreme amounts of talent.

"I know we've lost a lot of maturity in Simmons and Hooper ... but we'll be an exciting team.

"The guys like Angus Bell, Lachie Swinton, Will Harrison, James Ramm; they've been exceptional at training and I'm expecting big things from them this year."

Coach Rob Penney expects his squad to rally behind a man he thought was the obvious choice to lead, despite his lack of captaincy experience.

"He's a true-blue Tah and underpinning it all is his outstanding character; people warm to him and embrace (him) and he's a fierce competitor," he said.

Penney expects progression from a Waratahs side that finished the domestic tournament with a 4-4 record.

And he is mindful of putting on a show as domestic rugby is shown on free-to-air for the first time on Channel Nine.

"Playing attractive rugby and winning aren't mutually exclusive," he said.

"(But) we can't be stodgy and set piece-driven all the time; we've got to be able to show rugby is a beautiful game when it's played quickly, but still retain the essence of the brutality of the defence, collision and the breakdown."