27 Aug 2011

Mitchell presses claims for Wallabies spot

6:59 am on 27 August 2011

Drew Mitchell made a strong return from injury to press his claims for a start in the Rugby World Cup as the Australian Barbarians eased past Canada 38-14 on Friday night.

The winger was one of five Wallabies on the comeback trail at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast, playing just his third game following a sickening ankle injury sustained in April that threatened his World Cup hopes.

After admitting to bouts of pre-game nerves, the powerful NSW Waratah showed plenty of calm and - more importantly - plenty of pace as he scored two tries and made several incisive busts for a Barbarians outfit boasting 194 Test caps.

Mitchell was unlucky not to have two more, twice powering his way over the line through heavy traffic but unable to get the ball down.

Berrick Barnes (concussion), Rob Horne (elbow), James Slipper (ankle) and Tatafu Polota-Nau (knee) all played after missing substantial amounts of football through injury.

Nathan Sharpe led the Barbarians after being controversially omitted from Australia's side to contest the Tri-Nations final against New Zealand on Saturday night and was workmanlike in his 60 minutes on field.

Melbourne Rebels halfback Nick Phipps also played for 60 minutes in the place of the injured Matt Giteau - the man he also replaced in the World Cup squad.

Canada arrived after impressive wins against World Cup regulars USA in Toronto and Colorado and were tenacious against the Barbarians side.