Australia v New Zealand, Tri-Nations, Melbourne, July 31
Barnes returns for Wallabies
July 27, 2010
Berrick Barnes steps in to the void left by the suspended Quade Cooper © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has recalled Berrick Barnes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup game against New Zealand in Melbourne.
Barnes, who has endured a dramatic fall from vice-captain to bench player this season, will make his second start of the Test campaign at inside centre in the absence of suspended playmaker Quade Cooper. Cooper, who was handed a two-match ban for a dangerous tackle in Saturday's big win over the Springboks, has lodged an appeal over the severity of his sentence but is certain to miss this weekend's clash.
His absence sees Barnes re-unite with the in-form Matt Giteau in the midfield, with the Brumbies veteran handed the No.10 jersey after starting his previous four Tests at inside centre. Giteau and Barnes have been Deans' preferred midfield combination for 15 of the last 33 Tests, but they have not played alongside each other since the final Tri-Nations clash against the All Blacks in Wellington last November.
Only Stephen Larkham (87) and Michael Lynagh (64) have appeared mores times as a fly-half for Australia than Giteau, who has played 39 of his 82 Tests in the position. Barnes has played 17 of his previous 23 Tests as an inside centre, replacing Giteau in that position for the final eight minutes of last Saturday's Tri Nations opener in Brisbane.
The inclusion of Barnes is one of two changes to the starting side that beat South Africa 30-13 in Brisbane last weekend, with veteran hooker Stephen Moore replacing Saia Faingaa in the run-on side. Moore made his return from a broken jaw via the bench last weekend in Brisbane, getting through 25 minutes of play as he racked up his 47th Test appearance.
It is not all bad news for the Faingaa family on the selection front, with Saia's twin brother Anthony in line to make his Test debut after being elevated to the bench. Should the Faingaas take the field, they will become the 40th set of brothers to have appeared for Australia in Test matches.
The only other change to the bench sees Matt Hodgson return from a groin strain at the expense of his Western Force team-mate Ben McCalman.
The night will be a special one for lock Nathan Sharpe as he ties the Australian record held by former skipper John Eales for the most caps earned by a Wallabies second rower. Sharpe, who made his debut against France in Melbourne eight years ago, will be lining up in his 84th Test.
Australia: Adam Ashley Cooper, James O'Connor, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Will Genia, Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Salesi Maafu, Dean Mumm, Nathan Sharpe, Rocky Elsom (capt), David Pocock, Richard Brown.
Replacements: Saia Faingaa, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Matt Hodgson, Luke Burgess, Anthony Faingaa, Kurtley Beale.