Super Rugby Round 13: Waratahs v Stormers
Berrick Barnes back in Wallabies frame
May 12, 2013
Berrick Barnes spreads the play out wide, Australia v Wales, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Australia, June 23, 2012
Berrick Barnes is a favourite of Robbie Deans © Getty Images

Berrick Barnes has emerged from another dark run with injury to loom as a frontline contender for Australia's hotly-contested fly-half spot for the first Test against the British & Irish Lions.

Barnes, a long-time favourite of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, made a triumphant return from wrist surgery on Saturday night to deliver the pass for Israel Folau's last-gasp try that sealed the New South Wales Waratahs' season-saving 21-15 Super Rugby win over the Stormers in Sydney. Barnes iced his cameo performance after coming off the bench with the crucial conversion and a 50-metre penalty that rekindled memories of his goal-kicking heroics for the Wallabies in their tough series win over Wales last year.

With Kurtley Beale's immediate playing future in limbo following his latest off-field setback, Quade Cooper yet to learn if he's won back Deans' trust, and James O'Connor believed to have been earmarked for wing or five-eighth, and sustaining a sternum injury against the Blues that seems likely to rule him out at least one match for Melbourne Rebels, Barnes has suddenly roared back into reckoning. The one-time Wallabies vice-captain has played just 35 minutes this season, but he said after the Stormers match that Deans had been in regular contact during his three-month rehabilitation from wrist and knee injuries.

"He's been supportive. He keeps in touch," Barnes said of Deans. "It's nice to have still been involved in all the camps leading into it, but performance is what counts and you need a bit of form on the board and it's nice to have played tonight."

Barnes has one last chance to impress before Deans names a 25-man Wallabies squad next Sunday, with the Waratahs to play the Super Rugby ladder-leading Brumbies at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. The coach will unveil his complete 31-man squad to tackle the Lions on June 11, and Barnes is desperate to feature in the three-Test series. "I dare say every player, if they're being honest, would say they'd love to play against the Lions come a few weeks' time. I don't hide from that. All I can do is make sure fitness is on my side and a bit of game time and then it's up to the guys who make the calls. First and foremost, though, we've got Brumbies and the Tahs this week and we're still in with a hunt, which is nice."

The Waratahs showed great fight against the Stormers (video available only in Australia)

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