Barnes cleared for Sharks clash

2011-05-26 00:00

THE Waratahs medical team have done a brisk about-turn on the fitness of Wallaby flyhalf Berrick Barnes and cleared him to play in Saturday’s crunch Super Rugby game against the Sharks at King’s Park.

The Waratahs playmaker took a blow against the Lions in Sydney at the weekend and later suffered dizziness and memory loss. Barnes has suffered from concussion twice this year and it was initially reported that the latest incident would keep him out of Saturday’s game against the Sharks.

But doctors have now cleared Barnes of concussion and have instead diagnosed him with a less serious condition called footballer’s migraine.

Waratahs team doctor Sharron Flahive said Barnes is suffering an overlapping of two different conditions, footballer’s migraine and transient global amnesia, adding that the flyhalf will not be at risk playing against the Sharks.

“Over the years Berrick has had most likely a number of concussions while playing rugby league, for the Reds and Wallabies, and earlier this year for the Waratahs, but some of those concussions we now believe may have been a variant of footballer’s migraine,” Flahive said.

Barnes was in excellent form against the Lions, fashioning three tries in their 29-12 victory, and he is a key member of the Waratahs backline.

Waratahs coach Chris Hickey said that he has no injury concerns ahead of the Sharks game.

“This is probably about the first week we haven’t had someone that’s been ruled out of the game,” Hickey told reporters, adding that the Waratahs — currently fifth on 45 points and two ahead of the Highlanders and Sharks — are targeting a fourth-place finish on the log.

They are hoping that a win over the Sharks, followed by a Reds’ victory over the fourth-placed Crusaders (48 points) in Brisbane on Sunday, will take them into fourth spot.

“If we can pick up wins against both the Sharks and the Bulls [next week], I think even a fourth place is not out of the question,” Hickey said.

“But one game at a time, so we’ll just keep our focus on the Sharks and do our best to come away with a win that just puts us a little bit further away from them.

“This is one of those games I think that’s pivotal to both teams.

“The Sharks coming off a loss [to the Bulls] last week will be a little bit sharper, I’m sure, and being so close on the ladder the outcome will be a very important four or five points for both teams. The Bulls and the Sharks still have to play each other again so it could come down to the results over that last round.”

The Waratahs have one of the tightest defences in the competition, conceding just 15 tries in 12 outings, and that is not good news for the fumbling Sharks

But Hickey is taking nothing for granted.

“They are a strong attacking side and against them it is particularly important to be able to control possession from the start and then to play at the tempo we want to play,” Hickey said.

Sharks coach John Plumtree said the Waratahs have “lost some senior players, just as we have”.

The Waratahs are missing burly number eight Wycliff Paul, captain and flank Phil Waugh and their hard-running wing, Drew Mitchell. They have also been lambasted by their home supporters for playing conservatively and booting the ball too often instead of running with it.

“It’s been a bit of a difficult season for them,” said Plumtree, “and they’ll enjoy being away from Australia and away from the pressure.

“The Australians like entertainment and winning with it, but the Waratahs figure if they can only win without entertaining, they have to go down that track.”

Plumtree said the Sharks are in a similar situation.

“We also want to entertain and win. We want to play attractive rugby at King’s Park and it’s how we played the Currie Cup last year.

“But we might not be able to do it this year. We might have to win a different way as well.”

Plumtree said the South African attitude to rugby is more about winning than entertainment.

“The culture here is not about how you cross the line, just as long as you get the win.”

Saturday’s game kicks off at 5.05 pm and leading SA referee Jonathan Kaplan will blow the game.

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