Berrick Barnes has turned down overtures from a number of clubs, including Bath and Clermont to re-sign with the NSW Waratahs and the Australian Rugby Union. The talented 24-year-old, who will next week embark on his sixth Super Rugby campaign, has re-committed to the Australian Rugby Union and the NSW Waratahs for another two seasons.
He joins Wallaby team-mates Stephen Moore, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell and Ben Alexander who have all re-signed with the ARU inside of the last week.
“I’m excited to get things cleared up. I’m excited to be staying here in Sydney with the opportunity to represent my country as well,” Barnes says. “Both parties [the Australian Rugby Union & the NSW Waratahs] have been great. I feel like I am wanted. I’m excited about being here.”
Barnes acknowledged that the other opportunities put to him were “enticing” but says he is happy with the decision he has made, and is happy to have got his immediate future secured.
“I still have pride in both the Australian and the NSW jumper. I still want to play [for both teams]. Getting this deal out of the way is good for my piece of mind. I’ve got stability and a sense of security. Now I can just focus on the footy.”
ARU Managing Director and CEO John O’Neill said the Barnes re-signing was further confirmation that the New Generation Qantas Wallabies were not only enjoying the national team environment but were determined create an era of consistent success.
“That key message has come through loud and clear over the past week as key players re-commit beyond the Rugby World Cup this year,” said Mr O’Neill.
“Like me, our players believe they are on the cusp of something special. They want to taste the kind of success that brings with it the most coveted silverware.
“It was 2002 when we last won the Bledisloe Cup, 2001 when we last lifted the Tri Nations trophy, and 1999 when the Rugby World Cup was in the hands of a Wallabies captain.
“This team wants to experience those unforgettable moments together. They also realise there is a lot of hard work ahead.
“They are a team with an average age of just 24 and they are sitting at No.2 in the world. It’s why so many people around the game are so excited by what lies ahead in 2011 and in the years to come.
“Personally, I’m delighted Berrick has joined the growing group of players who have re-signed.
“He is a player of quality and one we value extremely highly. He’s got a great work ethic and off the field has the demeanour and charisma to help drive the game’s profile and popularity.”
Barnes made his debut for Australia at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, just over a year after he had first appeared in Super Rugby as a 19-year-old with the Queensland Reds.
His was a spectacular maiden Test too, as he came off the bench to score two tries in Australia’s 91-3 win over Japan at Lyon.
A week later, Barnes made his first Test start, replacing the injured Stephen Larkham at flyhalf and supplying a dropped goal as Australia beat Wales 32-20 at the Millennium Stadium to book its place in the World Cup quarter-finals.
While Australia’s run at that tournament ended at the last eight stage, Barnes returned home as one of the positives from the trip, having featured in four Tests to get his international career under way.
He was subsequently selected at inside centre as the Robbie Deans coaching era opened the following season, scoring the first try as Australia beat Ireland 18-12 in Melbourne to make a winning start to 2008.
Barnes has shown his versatility by performing soundly at both flyhalf and inside centre in the Test arena, with his ability to provide cover in both positions adding to the value he offers as a rapidly improving goal-kicker.
He is also an accomplished exponent of the dropped goal, having kicked five in Tests, which is the fifth most achieved by any Australian player.
Although he has twice been forced home from Spring Tours due to injury, Barnes has been a permanent fixture in the Wallabies squad when available, being originally selected as vice captain for his ill-fated 2009 tour.
He featured in nine of Australia’s 14 Tests in 2008, eight of 14 in 2009, and 10 of 15 last year.
Barnes led the Wallaby midweek team in both matches on last year’s tour, and wound up featuring in all seven matches that Australia played on the trip.
Barnes starts 2011 with 31 Test caps to his name, having returned to the starting XV for the final two matches of last year’s Spring Tour where Australia beat Italy (32-14) and France (59-16) respectively.
He took on the goal-kicking duties during the Test in Florence, contributing 22 points, which was just one shy of Michael Lynagh’s record for the most points by an Australian against Italy.