Barnes to return as Wallabies set to ring changes
Berrick Barnes is expected to be among a raft of changes Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will make to his starting line up to face England this weekend as the Australians look to get their European tour back on track.
Deans has plenty of quality players returning from injury for the clash at Twickenham with flanker David Pocock, winger Digby Ioane, lock Sitaleki Timani and prop Ben Alexander available for Saturday's (Sunday's AEDT) Test.
Hooker Stephen Moore is also expected to come under consideration after making his return from a hamstring injury off the bench in last weekend's 33-6 loss to France in Paris where he became Australia's most capped hooker while winger Drew Mitchell could also find his way into the team.
Blindside flanker Dave Dennis, who started against France, could be in the firing line with an option for Deans to start both openside specialists Pocock and Michael Hooper.
"We've got a number of blokes we should be able to consider this week," he said.
"We were always going to consider that group when they returned and obviously we consider the previous performance in determining our starting line-up at every instance."
Barnes produced a solid cameo at fullback in his return from injury against France with his effort pleasing Deans.
The NSW Waratah came on early in the second half for fullback Mike Harris who was struggling at the back for the Wallabies.
"Berrick did well. He did what he does well. He's a good communicator," Deans said.
Deans was asked if Barnes was ready start against England.
"Yes. He's obviously returning from injury and we sort of managed him through that but he reported as being fine after the game."
Until his French cameo Barnes hadn't played since suffering a punctured lung against Argentina in September.
"It was my first time back for a while and I really felt it out there," he said.
"It'd be good to start (against England). I've got a bit of work to do fitness wise but some coaches like to start returning players then bring them off later but that's Robbie's call to make."
England are coming off a seven-try 54-12 annihilation of Fiji last Saturday and are looking to chalk up a third straight Cook Cup win over the Wallabies.
"They'll be puffing their chests out. They had a very good win against the Fijians," Barnes said.
"They'll be confident but we have to lick our wounds and get on with it. There's no better motivation than playing the Poms in their own backyard."
Australia's recent nemesis, winger Chris Ashton, is available to make his return for England after missing the Fiji game due to suspension after picking up three yellow cards in the Heineken Cup.
Ashton has scored three tries in three Tests against Australia and coach Stuart Lancaster said the speedster will be raring to go.
"Chris was desperately disappointed to miss this game (against Fiji)," Lancaster said.
"He likes scoring tries and, if anything, this will fuel his hunger and desire to get back into the side. It was a tough lesson to learn.
"(Australia) are a top-three side and we recognise the quality of players we will need to beat them."
Lancaster is also expecting to have prop Alex Corbisiero and centre Jonathan Joseph available to face the Wallabies.