Barnes backs flexible contracts for Aussie stars

Brisbane Tens
by Sam Phillips

Berrick Barnes has forecast a bright future for Japanese rugby, one that includes more Australian players calling Japan home.

Barnes and his Panasonic Wild Knights teammates have arrived in Brisbane full of enthusiasm ahead of the Brisbane Tens, a competition at which they became everyone's second team with some spectacular rugby 12 months prior.

Barnes couldn't be happier with his decision to press refresh on a career that had been plagued by concussion concerns and said the departures of rising Australian stars such as Sean McMahon and Campbell Magnay was simple math.

"At the end of the day if someone says we are going to pay you $200k more to go overseas and do your job, would you do it?" Barnes asked.

"Of course you would.

Sean McMahon is a huge loss for Australian rugby. Photo: Getty Images"It's no different for a rugby player and the hard thing is you have to pay big money to guys like Izzy Folau to bring them through the gate and then we also have Michael Hooper, David Pocock and then there is Sean (McMahon), who we can't pay because they have to allocate the top money to (other players).

"He's gone 'I'm not feeling valued' so he goes somewhere else.

"It looks like you might get him back for the World Cup so it might end up being a win for both parties there."

Barnes forecast a future in which Folau's flexible contract may be the industry standard.

"That's the future - flexible contracts and how you marry that up to get your international players," Barnes said.

"It's not an easy answer in Australian rugby - there are so many things moving and I am definitely happy I did because I was just ready for a fresh start.Barnes has loved every minute of his time at Panasonic. Photo; Getty Images"Other guys are going younger and younger now."

With Yokohama the scene for the third Bledisloe, Barnes also shared a quirky insight into the way the Japanese approach their rugby.

"Japan is a funny place because while there are rugby fans, most people don't know who any of the players are," he said.

"In my team, barely any of the boys know who Sonny Bill Williams is and he played for them.

"They don't know but they will get on and support it - Goramaru is one of the most famous people in Japan.

"There is that element but the foreign guys, they don't get starstruck I don't think.

"Once they're at the grounds there will be mobs, autographs and lines but once you get outside of that realm you can get around with a level of anonymity."

Barnes' Panasonic Wild Knights will take part in the Brisbane Tens at Suncorp Stadium, kicking off on Friday at 2pm AEST. Buy tickets here.