Barnes warning for Cipriani
November 11, 2008
Barnes was injured during the Wallabies' victory over Italy last weekend © Getty Images
Australia fly-half Berrick Barnes has warned England counterpart Danny Cipriani about the pressures of being in the spotlight and expects him to face a real test of his mettle over the next few weeks.
Barnes will not have the opportunity to come face to face with Cipriani at Twickenham at the weekend as a knee ligament injury in Saturday's defeat of Italy has curtailed his tour, but his replacement, Matt Giteau, who came on to kick five penalties and a conversion, is no less fearsome. Cipriani's relationship with model Kelly Brook and resultant appearances in numerous magazines have given him a high profile that belies the fact he has only started two Tests for England.
The 21-year-old also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier this year when he was on the brink of making his first start against Scotland in March but was dropped for being photographed outside a nightclub after midnight on the day the squad were due to travel to Edinburgh.
A serious ankle injury suffered on club duty stalled his progress, but arguably heightened the sense of anticipation for his return, particularly given fellow number 10 Jonny Wilkinson's inability to stay injury-free. Barnes, 22, knows all about high expectations having burst on to the scene with a series of exciting performances at last year's World Cup.
"One of his hardest things is that he has a lot of pressure on him," said Barnes. "Everyone is looking to him as the next big thing. He carries himself pretty confidently. It will be interesting to see him go up against Gits this weekend. He will come up against some really good 10s in the next couple of weeks - Matt Giteau and (New Zealand's) Dan Carter. They will give him an indication, and everyone else, where he is.
"He is obviously a talent. He is a young guy with a lot of weight on his shoulders but he has an opportunity now to set himself up for the next 10 years. I think it is amazing how he has come back off his broken leg as well."
On fame, Barnes added: "I do get my photo taken. Public expectation has got to the extent now where you do worry about going out for a beer with your mates and you can't be yourself at some places at home. I tend to go to house parties and have a beer with your mates.
"It is a shame to see where it has gone but it comes with the territory nowadays."
Barnes is disappointed to be missing Saturday's clash but is grateful the prognosis for his injury is not too bad. "I've been enjoying it and I would dearly love to have been involved again this week," he added. "It's just the way it goes, these things happen. The doc reckons it is the PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament), which usually needs four to six weeks off."
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game