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Cooper rugby tackle not malicious: Barnes
Adrian Warren
19:24 AEST Wed Jul 25 2012
Berrick Barnes
Berrick Barnes (pic) says Quade Cooper's tackle that knocked him out was not malicious.

Berrick Barnes says there wasn't anything malicious about Quade Cooper's high tackle on him that resulted in his rival five-eighth being suspended, as the pair battle it out for the Wallabies No.10 spot next month.

Cooper missed the Queensland Reds' semi-final loss to the Sharks last week after a one-week suspension for a tackle on NSW pivot Barnes in a final-round Super Rugby game.

Both men have been involved in this week's national training camp in Sydney where Barnes confirmed Cooper had apologised for the tackle that briefly knocked him out.

"There was nothing malicious in it. It (the tackle) just crept up and I got knocked out as a result of it," Barnes said.

Barnes is the incumbent Wallabies pivot after starring in the recent three-Test series against Wales.

Cooper is back in the mix for Australia's first two Rugby Championship matches against New Zealand next month, after playing several games for Queensland following a lengthy layoff caused by a knee reconstruction.

Barnes said Cooper and himself had talked about on-field and off-field issues, though he stressed he also sometimes found himself in competition with other players for the inside centre spot, where he finished the season with NSW.

"I suppose there's always a bit of competitiveness between me and anyone in those positions," Barnes said.

"But I think you've got to try and put that aside sometimes and realise there's a greater good here and that's playing for your country."

As someone who has a record of head knocks, Barnes is aware of the developing debate about concussion in the AFL, especially given Adelaide forward Kurt Tippett's well-publicised problems in that area.

"Those (AFL) guys have got to be careful. The good thing about the timing of mine was the fact I don't have to play footy again for potentially another couple of weeks," Barnes said.

"I've got time to let my head rest and not have the anxiety also that goes along with having to play week in, week out and try and satisfy your ego and the ego of coaches and everyone is putting pressure on you."

Formerly proficient in rugby league, where the shoulder charge is the topical issue, Barnes stressed that was pretty much illegal in union, where offenders could expect to pay a price.

"I heard a leaguey making some stupid comments in the press the other day about rugby being softer - the games are different," Barnes said.

"In league, you've got to tie up (the ball carrier) because you're trying to control the ball. You've got to control the ruck and (the) play the ball.

"We (in union) have got to chop guys, so our guys can get on the ball so there's a lot more encouragement of the legs tackle."


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