Barnes happy to take the inside lane

Date published: June 5 2008

Australia youngster Berrick Barnes has emerged from playing a rookie fly-half for the Wallabies to undertaking a possible inside centre role for the upcoming Tests against Ireland and France.

Australia youngster Berrick Barnes has emerged from playing a rookie fly-half for the Wallabies to possibly undertaking a prominant inside centre role for the upcoming Tests against Ireland and France.

But Barnes has declared he's quite comfortable with both playmaking positions going into this season's Test campaign.

The Reds star was thrown into the international spotlight at last year's Rugby World Cup when Australia's veteran pivot Stephen Larkham was injured in practice and ruled out of the tournament.

The Reds fly-half scored two tries off the bench against Japan, followed by starts against Wales, Fiji, and in the Wallabies' quarter-final loss to England.

In the three games he started, Barnes had Matt Giteau beside him at inside centre, but the two have transposed positions through most of this year's Super 14 tournament with Giteau lining up at pivot for the Force and Barnes at inside centre for the Reds.

New Wallabies coach Robbie Deans utilised ball players at both fly-half and inside centre during his hugely successful tenure with the Crusaders and could look to Barnes and Giteau to fulfil the dual playmaker roles in the coming inbound Tests.

Barnes said prior to this season he had little senior experience of inside centre, playing just a couple of games there for his Super 14 franchise last year.

He said he struggled to find his feet at inside centre early in the season when he would jump in front of fly-half Quade Cooper, but felt he had started to come to grips with the number twelve position towards the end of the Super 14 campaign.

“The first few games at the Reds, I was running around like a chook with a head cut off,” Barnes told AAP.

“I didn't know what I was doing and now I've come to terms with when to come in and when not to and just let the number ten do his job.”

A diplomatic Barnes said he had no preferred position and was just happy to play for the Wallabies.

Barnes and Giteau traded roles at training on Thursday and the 22-year-old clearly relished the opportunity to work alongside his illustrious team-mate.

“I love working with Gits, I tell you, he's the best in the game in Australia and I love to be inside or outside him, it doesn't really matter,” said Barnes.

“I suppose with the way Robbie is trying to play you are looking at two ball players to get you around the field.

“We struck a bit of a combination up and we can continue that, that would be great.”