9 Nov 2009

Berrick Barnes won't return for Ireland test

5:13 pm on 9 November 2009

The Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has quashed Berrick Barnes' desperate hopes of rejoining the Wallabies' grand slam rugby tour but not ruled out changes to his backline for Sunday's acid Test against Ireland in Dublin.

With former captain Stirling Mortlock breaking down with a calf tear during his last training run before his scheduled departure from Australia, there were suggestions Barnes may be a chance of making a surprise return to give the squad some much-needed midfield reinforcement.

Initial fears that the Wallabies vice-captain would require surgery and several months' rehabilitation after being sent home from the tour with ankle ligament damage proved unfounded.

Nevertheless, Deans says the classy playmaker's ambitious plan to return to the UK for the last two Tests of the tour against Scotland and Wales are but a pipe dream.

Even given the limited options available, Australia's new-look, all-Queensland centre pairing of Digby Ioane and Quade Cooper looked to have nailed down Test starting spots with impressive displays in Saturday's 18-9 win over England.