Super Rugby Round 15
Barnes in the centres for Waratahs
May 22, 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
Waratahs back Berrick Barnes impressed from the bench against the Brumbies © Getty Images

Wallabies utility back Berrick Barnes has been picked at inside centre for his first run-on Super Rugby start in 10 weeks for New South Wales Waratahs' clash with the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.

Barnes has played just 77 minutes this season but made two influential cameos off the bench in the Waratahs' comeback victories over the Stormers and Brumbies to play his way into the 25-man Wallabies squad.

NSW coach Michael Cheika has rewarded the 50-Test stalwart by picking him at No. 12 and dumping fellow Wallabies selection Rob Horne to the bench.

Barnes had also been viewed as a potential fullback, where he's being sized up for the Wallabies, but Cheika has stuck firm with Israel Folau at No. 15 instead of moving him to the wing.

Barnes, who turns 27 next week, will take the goalkicking duties as halfback Brendan McKibbin, a 16-point performer in the round-three win over the Rebels, has been replaced by rising No. 9 Matt Lucas.

Lucas and Barnes are two of four changes to the starting 15 which beat the Brumbies 28-22, with hooker John Ulugia replacing Tatafu Polota-Nau (broken forearm) and Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu promoted to tight-head in place of Paddy Ryan.

Third-string hooker Luke Holmes and winger Tom Kingston have also been added to the bench. NSW hold a five-match unbeaten record over the Rebels, but the Melbourne side is in good form coming off a 30-21 upset of the Stormers, their first win over a South African rival.

Waratahs: Israel Folau; Peter Betham, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell; Bernard Foley, Matt Lucas; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (captain); Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani; Sekope Kepu, John Ulugia, Benn Robinson. Replacements: Luke Holmes, Paddy Ryan, Will Skelton, Mitchell Chapman, Brendan McKibbin, Rob Horne, Tom Kingston.


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