Barnes in line for pivot start

Berrick Barnes is recovering well from a back injury sustained against the Barbarians and is expected to be fit to play flyhalf against Wales on Saturday.

Barnes was accidentally kneed in the back at Twickenham and forced off as a result. However, reports suggest he is making speedy progress and is expected to retain the No 10 shirt for the clash in Cardiff.

If, however, he doesn’t recover, James O’Connor will be handed his first Test start in the position. Australia coach Robbie Deans said the youngster had acquitted himself well when asked to step in for Barnes against the Barbarians.

‘For a first outing at this level, it was an impressive performance,’ Deans said of O’Connor’s showing. ‘He provided demands on the defence, while his passing game was pretty good. That is going to be the toughest element when it comes to playing Test football, because there is so much less time and space.’

If Barnes proves his fitness, there are not expected to be any changes to the backline. No.8 Ben McCalman is set to return from an eye irritation and captain James Horwill will be elevated to the starting lineup for the final match of the year.