Australian Rugby
Berrick Barnes still dreaming of Wallabies
July 12, 2013
The Waratahs' Berrick Barnes makes a break against the Brumbies, New South Wales Waratahs v Brumbies, Super Rugby, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, May 18, 2013
Berrick Barnes will play his final Super Rugby game for the time being against Queensland Reds © Getty Images

Berrick Barnes has left the door ajar for him to return to Australia in time to press a claim for Rugby World Cup 2015 selection. Barnes, 27, will join Japanese Top League club Panasonic Wild Knights from New South Wales Waratahs for two seasons when his Australian Rugby Union (ARU) contract expires at the end of October.

"It'll be half this season and a full season [next year] so it still obviously leaves me eligible to come back at the beginning of Super Rugby in 2015," Barnes said of his Japanese deal. "That's the major reason I looked to going to Japan as an option rather than Europe, but whether that comes to fruition though is a big if and a long time down the track."

Barnes remains available for the Wallabies for the Rugby Championship under Ewen McKenzie, but he is resigned to the fact he may have played his last game in the gold jumper. He at fullback in the first Test against the British & Irish Lions, but suffered a head-knock late in the first half and played no further part in the series.

"Obviously with a new coach coming in, Ewen will want to do what he wants to do," he said. "And if I'm still part of that plan great, but if not I don't really know what I'm doing, I suppose you're a bit in limbo really. If I'm asked to play, of course I'd be excited, I'd love to be a part of it but I just think it all depends what his plans are in general."

"I've had my fair share of injuries and ups and downs, but footy's a lot like life: you have your good times and your bad times."

ARU officials "pretty vehemently said no" to Barnes' request for an early release from his contract. "Obviously they don't want to set a precedent with a number of blokes in a similar position. I won't lie, we're all in awkward sort of spots but it depends; my release date is in late October and, as far as I know, I'm involved here until then."

Barnes sat out the final two Lions Tests as a precaution after his well-documented battle with footballers' migraine in 2011, but he is confident he is ready to make his final outing for New South Wales Waratahs against former club Queensland Reds. "It's a nice way to finish up at this time," he said. "Look, you never know when your last game's going to be - period. It's a good one to be involved in and especially for all the boys to try and leave a bit of a mark on 2013."

Asked how he would remember his time in Australian rugby, Barnes, a veteran of 51 Tests, replied: "Fondly. I got a lot of opportunities. Obviously I've had my fair share of injuries and ups and downs, but footy's a lot like life: you have your good times and your bad times, and I've been fortunate enough to have been through a few."

Matt Dunning and Duncan McRae preview Super Rugby round 20
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