Pat McCutcheon runs with the ball during Waratahs training in Sydney today

Berrick Barnes will return to the HSBC Waratahs starting line up for this Saturday’s round three FxPro Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders in Dunnedin.

Barnes injured his groin in the team’s second trial match against Tonga last month and will make his return this weekend at inside centre, where he will play alongside on form fly half Daniel Halangahu and outside centre Rob Horne.

With many of last week’s starting backline turning in strong performances in the team’s bonus point victory over the Rebels, coach Michael Foley was faced with some difficult decisions when it came to where to play the returning pair.

“The way in which Daniel has led the team has been particularly good as has his form in the first two games.  Berrick is a senior international player with a lot of skills, returning from a short injury, and to have the two play alongside each other will hopefully give us options when it comes to controlling the game and our style of play.”

With Halangahu retaining the captaincy and kicking duties, double try-scorer Tom Carter has to be content with a spot on the bench this time around.  After impressing in his Super Rugby run on debut last Friday, Bernard Foley retains the full back jersey, with Adam Ashley-Cooper and young gun Tom Kingston completing a dangerous-looking backline.

But against an opposition known for their work at the breakdown, coach Michael Foley will need to ensure that his team are competitive in the forwards if in form halves Sarel Pretorius and Halangahu are to have the platform to unleash the talent outside them.

“The outstanding feature of the Highlanders is the number of turnovers they force from their opposition, creating more opportunities for themselves.  That was in evidence last season and also in their first game against the Chiefs,” said Foley.

“From our point of view, they put numbers in the breakdown and if we’re not accurate there then we won’t be able to get our game started.”

Having overcome a calf tear sustained in the week leading up to the season opener, breakaway Pat McCutcheon returns to the starting line up in place of Chris Alcock.    His 62nd appearance in the second row, the match will also see Dean Mumm overtake Will Caldwell as the most capped NSW lock in Super Rugby history.

Jono Jenkins will replace Chris Alcock on the bench. Alcock was replaced in last Friday’s round two match against the Rebels after taking a knock that required stitches to his left eyebrow and has so far failed to completely recover.

Starting XV:
15. Bernard Foley
14. Tom Kingston
13. Rob Horne
12. Berrick Barnes
11. Adam Ashley-Cooper
10. Daniel Halangahu (c)
9.    Sarel Pretorius
8.    Wycliff Palu
7.    Pat McCutcheon
6.    Dave Dennis
5.    Kane Douglas
4.    Dean Mumm
3.    Sekope Kepu
2.    Tatafu Polota-Nau
1.    Benn Robinson (vc)

16. John Ulugia
17. Paddy Ryan
18. Lopeti Timani
19. Jono Jenkins
20. Brendan McKibbin
21. Tom Carter
22. Brackin Karuaria-Henry