Sydney - The Waratahs have named Berrick Barnes at inside-centre for
Saturday's clash against the Highlanders, forcing last week's two-try
hero, Tom Carter, to the bench.
Barnes has at last overcome his groin problems and will
make his first Super Rugby appearance this season under cover at the new
Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
The Waratahs were hopeful against the Reds and Rebels
that Barnes would be playing, only for them to decide midweek each time
that it would be wise to rest their Wallabies midfielder until he was
100 percent fit. The Waratahs have decided this year they will not play
footballers if they have ''slight niggles'', believing that having
unfit players will destabilise their campaign.
But Barnes did everything required during yesterday's two-hour
session, being involved in every team manoeuvre, which saw him replace
Carter at inside-centre, who ran with the reserves. Barnes will team up
Rob Horne in the centres, but won't take over the goalkicking duties
from five-eighth Daniel Halangahu.
In the forwards, the Waratahs used the same pack on Tuesday, except that back-rower Pat McCutcheon ran at openside,
instead of Chris Alcock who sat out training due to an eye wound.
McCutcheon, returning from a calf tear, is expected to
share the No.7 jersey with Alcock - both anticipated to play half a game
against an opponent that has been one of the most impressive all-round
performers of the first two rounds. The Waratahs will require every able
forward to keep the Highlanders at bay, especially as they have shown
that their speed and intensity at the breakdown is of the highest
And the Highlanders have become even more of a force at
their new state-of-the-art home ground, that has quickly turned into a
rugby coliseum, prompting their halfback Aaron Smith to say it is like
having two extra players on their side.
While Barnes was yesterday delighted he was again
available for selection, he knows what confronts him in Dunedin will be
''This ground will be even more of a cauldron [than
Carisbrook], because at least the fans will want to turn up there,
because they're not getting rained on every second game,'' Barnes said
yesterday. ''They've also got a good side, and are probably the form
team of the competition. They are extremely physical at the breakdown,
and have more back threats this year, which makes them lot more of a
The stadium also gives the Highlanders the chance to be
more expansive. ''In the past, the Highlanders have been able to slow it
down and played a forward-oriented game,'' Barnes said.
''But with their new stadium, they don't have to play
that style of game. They can really open it up and play fast, attacking
rugby. Across the board they have guys who are really agile, including
in the pack.'
Among those delighted Barnes is at last available is Waratahs backs coach Alan Gaffney.
''Tom Carter has played pretty well the last two games, but Berrick brings something else to the equation,'' Gaffney said.
''Having two ball players in any team is an added bonus. And having a ball player of the quality of Berrick is fantastic.''
Waratahs: 15 Bernard Foley, 14 Tom
Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Daniel
Halangahu (captain), 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Pat McCutcheon, 6 Dave
Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn
Substitutes: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Lopeti Timani, 19 Chris Alcock,
20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Tom Carter, 22 Brackin Karuaria-Henry