Barnes ruled out of Wallabies’ Bledisloe battle

WALLABIES vice-captain Berrick Barnes has been ruled out of tomorrow’s Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks after rolling his left ankle at training in Tokyo yesterday.

The 23-year-old inside centre could also be in doubt for Australia’s Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland, their first in 25 years, following the year’s fourth and final trans-Tasman Test.

His withdrawal prompted Wallabies coach Robbie Deans to change the team, bringing teenager James O’Connor from the bench to full-back and moving Adam Ashley-Cooper into Barnes’ position.

Barnes, his left foot taped, was seen limping out the training ground on crutches on his way to a hospital for scans.

“He rolled his ankle so he won’t be playing this weekend,” Wallabies media manager Matt McIlraith said, adding that the full extent of the injury may be known in the “next day or so”.

“As far as Berrick’s situation concerning the rest of the tour, we still don’t know.”

Barnes’ teammates said they were disappointed but still confident they could wage a full-out battle to end their six-Test losing streak against New Zealand.

“It is unfortunate for him and for us to lose a player on Thursday,” said lock James Horwill.

“But we are moving forward. We are still confident that the guys in there are going to be more than able to do their jobs.”

Ryan Cross, who was slotted in at outside-centre, said his side would now have two running centres.

“Obviously we’ll have to change our style a bit,” he said. “I think we will play the best we can.”

Meanwhile, Rodney So’oialo has credited a spell in provincial rugby with helping him claim back his New Zealand number eight jersey for tomorrow.

The 30-year-old has endured a tough year, carrying a neck injury during the latter stages of the Super 14 which saw him rested from the June Tests.

He then struggled to impose himself in the first three matches of the Tri-Nations and was dumped to the bench for the final three matches of the series.

But a stint with Wellington helped the 60-Test veteran rediscover his appetite for the game.

“It helped me get excited again,” So’oialo said. “The love for the game nearly went away. But going back to the Air New Zealand Cup and realising what the black jersey really means to me, it really opened up my eyes.”

AUSTRALIA (revised): J O’Connor; P Hynes, R Cross, A Ashley-Cooper, D Ioane; M Giteau, W Genia; B Robinson, T Polota-Nau, B Alexander; J Horwill, M Chisholm; R Elsom (capt), D Pocock, W Palu.

Replacements: S Moore, M Dunning, D Mumm, G Smith, L Burgess, D Mitchell, AN Other.

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