James Mortimer 14.Aug.2012getty
Yet the shadow of Quade Cooper looms large, with many All Blacks fans wanting to see the mercurial playmaker turn out for Australia, not just because of his 'public enemy number one status' that many tagged him with during the Rugby World Cup, but because many feel he has the spark to his game that could see the Wallabies challenge the World Champions.
Coming back from injury, Cooper played in the backend of the Reds Investec Super Rugby campaign.
Recently he played in the Sunshine Coast for his Brisbane club, as the Wallabies selectors are giving the 24-year-old time to get back to full fitness.
With other first five-eighth candidates - namely Christian Lealiifano and James O'Connor - injured, the Wallabies will hope that Cooper comes back to put pressure on Barnes.
His Reds halves partner in Will Genia felt that Cooper could play.
"Quadey has done a lot of work in terms of getting his body right and I think he is fit, he is ready to go," Genia said.
"It's just a matter of whether you'd be willing, I guess, to put him into a Test match straight up and play 80 minutes against the All Blacks.
"I think that's more a call for Robbie than anyone else."
While Genia didn't deny he would love to play alongside Cooper, admitting he missed him in the early stages of the Reds campaign, he said that Barnes did the business against the Six Nations champions.
"From a player's point of view, it would be obviously great having him (Cooper) there, but Barnesy did a great job against Wales and in all fairness, I guess, probably deserves first crack at that No.10 jersey," he said.