Waratahs end Barnes rumours
Sydney - The coach of Australian Super Rugby club Waratahs played down reports on Thursday that playmaker Berrick Barnes was leaving the side for Japan's Panasonic Wild Knights.
Barnes, 26, was linked to the Wild Knights by Australia's Fairfax Media, who said he was due to replace France-bound former All Black Mike Delany at the end of this year's Super Rugby season.
But Waratahs coach Michael Cheika poured cold water on the story, saying he had received no indication that Barnes, a key player for both the Waratahs and the Wallabies, would sign with the Japanese top league.
Barnes' contract with the Australian Rugby Union expires at the end of 2013.
"No one says sayonara until they've left," Cheika told reporters.
"My job is to make sure that this place is such a good place to be at that guys don't want to leave."
Barnes is one of several Waratahs players reported to be looking at offshore options after a disappointing last season in which the Waratahs won just four matches.
"I've spoken to the team about it and said 'Listen. What everyone does (contract wise) is up to everyone'," Cheika said.
"What we're about as a team is creating a great environment this year so that we leave something for next year's team."