Aussie wrap (Tues)

Keo.co.za brings you the latest news from Australia’s year-end tour.

Barnes distraught

Wallabies utility back Berrick Barnes is gutted after being ruled out of this weekend’s grudge match against England.

Barnes injured his knee during Australia’s win over Italy last Saturday and will now miss his side’s chance to avenge their quarter-final defeat to England at last year’s World Cup.

“Robbie had given me the opportunity to start at 10 against Italy. To get back into that position and have a bit of fun there, I was enjoying it,” Barnes said.

“I hadn’t played there [at flyhalf] since England and it was good. I would have dearly loved the opportunity to have been involved this weekend for sure.

“Having played that game [World Cup quarter-final] at the end of last year, it was something I had set my sights on.”

“Sitting in the stands and watching the World Cup semi-final and watching Jonny [Wilkinson] kicking them into the final was one of the things I wanted to atone for. So to miss this game is pretty disappointing.

Johnson keen to keep troops grounded

Martin Johnson is well aware that calming his players will be a major part of his preparations for Saturday’s Test against Australia.

Debutant fullback Delon Armitage was Man of the Match in England’s 39-13 victory over the Pacific Islanders last weekend, while Ugo Monye and srumhalf Danny Care also impressed.

However, Johnson is keen to temper their expectations and outline the different challenges England face against the Wallabies at Twickenham.

“I think it’s great because the players are full of enthusiasm, they want to play, they want to learn,” said Johnson.

“They want to go out and succeed and our job is to help them do that, help them find the way and when we have those bad moments which we do, it’s about keeping them confident.

“When we have good moments and everyone is saying how great they are, it’s grabbing them back down that’s important.”

Meanwhile, Mathew Tait has returned to training this week after missing out on the Islanders clash with a hamstring injury and could be in contention for Saturday’s game.

More to follow …