Former Red Ant has no plans to return to Australian rugby.
Former Red Ant has no plans to return to Australian rugby. DAVE HUNT

Barnes hails Cush; content with Japan

BERRICK Barnes has hailed the influence of his former Red Ants coach Tony Cush, when speaking with about the potential of a move into coaching once he finally hangs up the boots.

"I honestly think that was the best grounding I ever had,” Barnes said.

"One of my biggest coaches (in Kingaroy), he just passed away, they had a big funeral there, over 1000 people turned up for it.

"You just hope that stuff doesn't die, you need mums and dads to sit in canteens and buy the jerseys and do that stuff.”

The 30 year-old this month shut down suggestions he could make a return to Australian rugby, when he faced reporters after his Panasonic Wild Knights were knocked out of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens by the Crusaders.

He appears content to split his time between the Wild Knights base in Ota, Japan and his family home in Lennox Head - where he will take on a coaching role with the Lennox Head Trojans this season.

Barnes said he has found "rugby solace” as he enters his fourth season in Japan's Top League, after a string of head injuries threatened to end his career.

"I've trained harder with rugby over there than I ever did (in Australia),” Barnes said.

"We train hard, we do a lot of training but because we're run by a corporation like Panasonic, we're effectively company employees.

"I don't think you ever make too many bad choices, you just make ones that you learnt a lot from and definitely going to Japan was a good one.”

The 51-test Wallaby and former Brisbane Broncos five-eighth, Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs fly-half moved through two codes and three clubs in seven years as the knocks continued to take their toll, and admitted he had doubts about returning to the field.

"You just get anxiety about going back on the field, and I felt like I was seasick, driving, looking at computer screens and it just doesn't go away,” Barnes said.

"The worst thing is being around a football environment because there's no scan that tells you there's anything wrong and the coaches are there (asking if you're ok to play).

"I think the badge of honour about playing on (has) gone now, and I think that's a good thing.”

After the 'athlete's migraine' diagnosis in 2011, Barnes tried every trick and therapy under the sun to give him the best possible chance at continuing his career.

"I tried a heap of different things,” Barnes said.

"I just wanted to give myself every chance so that when I got back on the field I thought, 'Alright this is it, if I get another knock I'll pull the pin, but if not I'll go well'.”

Regardless of what the future holds, Barnes is just happy to be back playing regular rugby again.

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