Berrick Barnes will retain the Wallabies No 10 jersey with coach Robbie Deans ruling out Quade Cooper as an option for Saturday’s Test against Wales.
Barnes may be the Wallabies’ fourth-choice flyhalf, but according to the head coach he should start in the first of three Tests against Wales. Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor are not available because of injuries, and Cooper is not yet fit enough to be considered for selection.
Cooper recently made his return from a serious knee injury, playing in two matches for the Reds. Deans, however, believes it would be foolish to rush Cooper back into Test rugby.
‘There’s no chance of that,’ said Deans. ‘Because it would be negligent. He’s not ready and he understands that. It’s not worth the risk because you could compromise not only him in the long run but also us.’
Barnes started at flyhalf against Scotland on Tuesday, a match the Wallabies lost 9-6 in terrible conditions. Deans expects Barnes to turn in an improved performance against Wales.
‘To use the ball effectively you’ve got to have a greater understanding of direction and shape and we lacked that against Scotland,’ Deans said. ‘Combinations and so forth came up short in the first instance.
‘It wouldn’t surprise me if the Welsh, in the knowledge that we have had to play two games already this week, don’t adapt their tactics to make the most of that. You’ll see some fresh legs [in the Wallabies team] with a fresh mindset.’