Barnes says Mortlock in World Cup running - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Barnes says Mortlock in World Cup running

Melissa Woods 14/02/2011 04:53:49 PM Comments (0)

Key NSW Waratahs back Berrick Barnes believes veteran Stirling Mortlock could force his way back into the Wallabies for this year's rugby World Cup.

Barnes will get a close-up look at former Wallabies skipper Mortlock's return to action when the Melbourne Rebels host the Waratahs at AAMI Park on Friday night as they make their historic Super rugby debut.

The 33-year-old Mortlock has made his World Cup ambitions clear as he rebuilds his career following back surgery which sidelined him for most of 2010.

Test coach Robbie Deans has built stacked his Wallabies backline with versatile, lightweight, lightning-fast youngsters which could suggest the burly Mortlock's direct bash and barge style is on the outer.

But it could also just mean he didn't have the likes of an in-form Mortlock available.

And Barnes says Mortlock should never be underestimated.

"I've played Stirling a number of times, with and against him, and he brings a lot to the table both on the field and also with his leadership," Barnes said.

"If Stirling can stay on the field and prove his fitness and get that consistency back in his game there's no doubt (he could return to the Wallabies).

"His record speaks for itself, 80 or so Tests and a number of those as captain and he led very well.

I'd never write him off that's for sure."

NSW coach Chris Hickey isn't expected to name his team before Wednesday, with Barnes, who missed their last trial with a minor leg injury, and Daniel Halangahu both in the running for the five-eighth jersey.

The 24-year-old, who last week re-signed with Australia and NSW until the end of 2013, will otherwise fill the No.12 jersey, which he has worn of late with the Wallabies.

If timing was different Barnes could have been running out with the Rebels.

He was a prime recruitment target and said the Melbourne offer was "extremely enticing", but after only just switching from the Queensland Reds to NSW, didn't want tomove again.

"The timing was wrong, I'd made a decision to come to NSW and it was more that I'd only been there for five weeks," he said.

"NSW had been fantastic and there was no way I could really switch and that's why I decided to stay.

"I'm really happy now where I am, NSW has a great group of blokes here."

NSW have tried to glean as much as possible from the Rebels' warm-up games and are expecting a tough encounter in front of a likely full house.

Barnes said it was more important that they got their own house in order more than worry about what the new boys would produce.

"We're certainly not underestimating what we're going into on Friday night," he said.

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