Sydney - Playmaker Berrick Barnes has admitted to struggling to adapt to Super
Rugby at the Waratahs, and says he owes fans and team-mates a big year
after two frustrating seasons in the sky blue.
The former Wallabies vice-captain and international star
has had an unsettled two years in NSW colours since leaving the Reds in
2009, forced to miss the majority of last year with ''footballer's
migraine'' and failing to find his fit in a star-studded side in his
Regardless, Barnes remained an integral part of the
Wallabies squad, and after overcoming his ongoing headaches in the Shute
Shield was among Robbie Deans' best during Australia's World Cup
campaign and spring tour.
And now, with with a resolve more steel than
apprehensive, the 25-year-old says he is ready to bring his
international game to the Super Rugby arena and help guide the Waratahs
to unprecedented success this year.
''Look, I'd prepared well coming back to play in that
World Cup. I felt I was ready to play,'' Barnes said. ''It was a gamble
for the selectors and coaches to even take me and then obviously to
play me they were cautious. So I'm not surprised I didn't get a run
until later in the tournament. But in saying that, I was happy with the
way things went.
''But Super Rugby has been a different beast for me. And
it's something I need to get my head around. I need to play better there
and that's something I'm trying to do.
''This is a better year for me. I feel confident amongst
the boys and I'm not trying to worry about where I fit in and all of
Married in the off-season, Barnes said he hadn't suffered
any headaches other than a self-induced episode following his wedding
night in Orange.
''I didn't have any issues with the head at the end of
last year, and it's been all clear since,'' he said. ''I was happy with
the way things went on tour and everything I was doing seemed to be
working. I was, and am, a lot more relaxed about things, not as pent up
''Now, I just want to play footy again and do be that
same player and better for the Waratahs. I can't wait to get that
week-in, week-out feel again.''
With former assistant Michael Foley in the head coaching
role, new recruits Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rocky Elsom on board and a new
leadership group in the making, the playmaker is finally comfortable
with his place in the side.
He's a senior player, a leader, a playmaker and best of
all, with experience playing fullback for University, he's versatile and
offers more than just a solid kicking game. Barnes is certain to be a
starting 15 player in Foley's 22 - but most likely at No 10.
''I enjoyed playing fullback for Uni, and that's
something I'd love to explore more of during the year,'' Barnes said.
''But whether that happens or not I don't know.''