The Rugby Championship
Genia backs Barnes at fly-half
ESPN Staff
August 13, 2012
Berrick Barnes in training with the Wallabies, Leichhardt Oval, Sydney, Australia, July 26, 2012
Berrick Barnes has the support of Will Genia © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Berrick Barnes | Will Genia
Tournaments/Tours: Rugby Championship

Australia scrum-half Will Genia believes that Berrick Barnes has earned the right to start at fly-half against New Zealand in the opening game of the Rugby Championship.

The Waratahs playmaker took a starring role in the Wallabies' June victories over a strong Wales side but faces stern competition at No.10 from a fit-again Quade Cooper.

Cooper has not played a Test since picking up a serious knee injury during the Rugby World Cup, having made his comeback for the Reds towards the tail of the Super Rugby season, and recently turned out in Brisbane club rugby to build his match-fitness.

"Quadey has done a lot of work in terms of getting his body right and I think he is fit, he is ready to go," Genia said. "It's just a matter of whether you'd be willing, I guess, to put him into a Test match straight up and play 80 minutes against the All Blacks.

"I think that's more a call for Robbie [Deans] than anyone else. From a player's point of view, it would be obviously great having him there, but Barnesy did a great job against Wales and in all fairness, I guess, probably deserves first crack at that No.10 jersey."

The Wallabies are expected to bring in two new faces for Saturday's tournament opener in Sydney, with Waratahs back-row Dave Dennis a likely replacement for the injured Wycliff Palu and Anthony Faingaa in line to run on in place of Pat McCabe.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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