Rugby

Barnes vows to bring A-game

2012-01-20 09:57
Berrick Barnes (Gallo)
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 debut season.

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 that.''

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 and stressed.

''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.''

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