Barnes pivotal to Wallabies attack?
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has hinted that Berrick Barnes is likely to continue at fly-half for Australia during the Rugby Championship.
Deans was forced to call on the Waratahs playmaker to lead the Wallaby back-line in the absence of Quade Cooper and James O'Connor during the June Tests, and Barnes turned in the best performances of his international career - earning two man-of-the-match awards.
Cooper has played six games for the Reds since his return from a long-term knee injury but Deans suggested he was not in a rush to tinker with the side that claimed a 3-0 series win over the Six Nations champions.
''Berrick is obviously the incumbent and played all the in-bound series and played well,'' said Deans said.
''Quade's coming back and he's going to need to play some rugby. He hasn't played any rugby really over the last year.
''A lot [of my decision] will be influenced by what they do in training, without a doubt. We see them through prep before the public see them in a game.''
Deans is willing to see a silver lining to Australia's failure to field a team in the Super Rugby semi-finals as it gives his squad extra time to prepare for their first Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand on August 18.
"It is a bit of a quid pro quo really. It would be good to have the experience of play-off rugby but we've now got the opportunity to put that extra week to good use," explained the coach.
"There is an opportunity now as a group to get a prep that may have been compromised if we'd gone the distance, as we've seen in recent times. There is value in both [paths].
"Those that go through and succeed will take some momentum out of that, and some belief and confidence. Those that don't, which is us in this instance, we have to put this time to good use.
"It's like a mini pre-season, for some. They're going to work."
Deans also dismissed criticism about the Australian conference being weak, saying there was no historical evidence to suggest a correlation between Super Rugby and Test success.
"History has been pretty erratic. There is probably no one consistent trend," he said.