Berrick Barnes benched for Crusaders clash
May 30, 2013
Berrick Barnes impressed off the bench against the Brumbies © Getty Images
New South Wales coach Michael Cheika has benched Berrick Barnes, recalling Rob Horne to start at inside centre against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday. Cheika said the Waratahs forwards let down Barnes in the surprise loss to Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby round 15, prompting his decision to reinstate Horne to the starting No.12 jersey and Brendan McKibbin at half-back.
The Waratahs are expecting a physical, down-to-the-wire contest against the Crusaders, as the two teams fight for a play-off berth, and Horne will provide presence early before Barnes enters the fray later in the match as he did with a match-winning performance against the Brumbies two weeks ago.
"Rob didn't do anything wrong the week before to miss out against the Rebels ... I always told him he'd be playing this week so he's playing because he deserves his opportunity in the team," Cheika said. "I don't think it didn't work because it was Berrick's fault. We didn't lay the platform for that type of 10, 12 combination. The Crusaders is going to be a game where it goes down to the wire and if we're going to win it we need to have good impetus coming off the bench."
Waratahs captain Dave Dennis switches to No.8 in place of injured Wycliff Palu - with the task of taking on Crusaders skipper Kieran Read. Cam Crawford returns to the starting side in place of Drew Mitchell, having recovered fully from a corked thigh, while 20-year-old backrower Jed Holloway replaces Mitchell Chapman on the bench after the veteran forward sustained a medial ligament injury at training.
Michael Cheika has made changes after his side's disappointing effort against the Rebels (video available only in Australia)%]
The Waratahs retain a chance of making the six-team finals series, but they face a daunting task against the All Blacks-laden Crusaders in Christchurch: the Waratahs have not won at AMI Stadium since 2004, and they have won just four of the 19 previous meetings between the sides - and lost the past 10.
Cheika said the team's first loss to the Rebels was all part of the learning process. He blamed an attitude dip for the result, but suggested the disappointment set a perfect platform for a bounce-back win against the most successful team in the history of Super Rugby.
"It's an ideal match for us to come back because I felt last week we had a step down in our attitude and our edge compared to the five games before that,' Cheika said. "This is a perfect game for us to bounce back and test our attitude and try and make a name for ourselves by taking a big scalp. What we're looking for predominantly is for our attitude to bounce back. The whole season has been about getting our mentality right and laying the platform of how we want our team to look and think and we've got a good run of games together."
Waratahs: Israel Folau; Cam Crawford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Peter Betham; Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin; Dave Dennis (captain), Michael Hooper, Pat McCutcheon; Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani; Sekope Kepu, John Ulugia, Benn Robinson. Replacements: Luke Holmes, Paddy Ryan, Will Skelton, Jed Holloway, Matt Lucas, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell.
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