Super Rugby
Berrick Barnes backs Ben Volavola
March 4, 2013
The Waratahs' Ben Volavola catches a pass during training, New South Wales waratahs, Super Rugby, February 18, 2013
Ben Volavola is making a firm impression on his team-mates © Getty Images

The rapid rise of New South Wales Waratahs backline utility Ben Volavola is no surprise to team-mate Berrick Barnes, whose injury has opened the door for the exciting youngster.

Volavola galvanised the Waratahs' backline in his appearances off the bench in their first two Super Rugby games against Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels. And the 22-year-old now looms as a potential starter for the match against the Brumbies in Canberra, with Barnes rating himself just an outside chance of recovering from his knee injury in time.

"I thought what Ben Volavola did in both games was outstanding," Barnes said on Monday. Barnes said Volavola's talent had been obvious last year but was now more widely appreciated.

"The way he played at the end of last year with Southern Districts, in terms of when they went to the [Sydney club grand] final against Uni was good," Barnes said. "Not a lot of people watch club rugby other than in the Sydney area, so they are not going to see a hell of a lot of him playing. He's been able to get that visibility playing for us and it's going to wake everyone up to his ability."

Waratahs lock Mitchell Chapman said the match against the Brumbies on Saturday already shaped as a pivotal Australian conference encounter.

"I guess this weekend is a really big game for us, even this early in the season," Chapman said. "Going down to the Reds, we've really got to beat the Brumbies early on to get our season on track."

The Waratahs overcame the Rebels

For the first time in more than 10 months, NSW players reported for work on a Monday without having to stew over a weekend loss.

Their 31-26 home win over Melbourne on Saturday snapped a nine-match losing streak stretching back to April 2012.

"It was a really good feeling after I think it was over 300 days without an official Super Rugby win," Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan said. It was great for us to get that little monkey off the back and it really does feel like a fresh start here now. It feels good to be coming in on a Monday morning after a win."

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