Wallabies tour over for Tahu and Barnes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies tour over for Tahu and Barnes

By Darren Walton 10/11/2008 09:28:36 AM Comments (0)

The Wallabies' European tour is over for Timana Tahu and Berrick Barnes, with coach Robbie Deans confirming they will be sent home after suffering injuries in Saturday's costly win over Italy.

The Wallabies arrived in London on Sunday ahead of this week's much-anticipated Test against England at Twickenham, but Tahu and Barnes will play no further part in the six-match tour and are likely return to Australia on Wednesday.

The luckless Tahu has suffered yet another hamstring tear, while an MRI scan on Monday is expected to confirm Barnes has sustained ligament damage to his left knee.

Their injuries have effectively left Deans with a reduced squad of 32 players for the Wallabies' remaining four matches, as he has no plans to call for reinforcements.

The fact Deans views Tahu as primarily an inside centre, the same position the versatile Barnes usually fills in the Wallabies' full-strength line-up, is sure to stretch resources over the coming month.

Before limping off, Tahu set up Australia's first try in the hard-fought 30-20 victory over Italy with a midfield bust and one-arm offload, while the Wallabies' attack looked dangerous with Barnes directing play from five-eighth before losing its way after his injury.

Star flyhalf Matt Giteau says the Wallabies must draw a positive from the double injury blow.

"I mean, it's obviously strange circumstances and obviously disappointing for both those players," Giteau said on Sunday.

"They've been training really well and, in particular, Berrick has consistently been playing well.

"Timana hasn't had many opportunities, but I thought yesterday when he was given his opportunity he was playing well.

"It's disappointing in that aspect. But, having said that, with injuries always come opportunities.

"So it means someone else will get an opportunity."

Against England, Deans is expected to use the same midfield combination which started Australia's last two Tests against the All Blacks, with Ryan Cross and Stirling Mortlock in the centres and Giteau inside them calling the shots.

Should any of the three join the squad's casualty ward, Deans would need to call on tour rookies Quade Cooper or James O'Connor.

Cooper already grabbed his an opportunity on Saturday, scoring the match-winning try on debut in Padova, while Deans says he wouldn't be afraid to also hand O'Connor a crack at five-eighth, if need be, and move Giteau to inside centre.

O'Connor, who at 18 became the second-youngest Wallaby in Test history when he debuted as a replacement fullback in the final nine minutes against Italy, says he'd be only too happy to be thrown into the playmaker's role.

"Definitely. You can control the game from 10," said the confident teenager, who played flyhalf on the Western Force's developmental of the UK earlier this year.

"There's different aspects of different positions, but definitely 10 is one of my favourites."

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