Berrick Barnes gets washed up
THE NSW Waratahs have a backline selection dilemma. And when former Lennox Head Trojan Scott Wisemantel took star recruit Berrick Barnes for a surf last week, he almost solved it.
A relaxing morning paddle almost turned into a nightmare for the Waratahs backs coach when cyclonic swells washed Barnes onto the rock-face between Bronte and Tamarama in Sydney.
Disaster would have made team selection for the opening Super 14 match simpler, but Wisemantel may not have been around to have his say.
“Yeah, I did save him,” Wisemantel said.
“But I almost bloody killed him.”
When the pair checked the surf waterboy Wisemantel advised the Kingaroy kid conditions were four-to-five feet and safe.
Given that Kingaroy is 220km inland and the kid is courageous, he had no grounds to think otherwise so off they went.
It wasn’t until they got three parts of the way out to Bronte Reef that Wisemantel realised what he had got himself and the Wallabies vice-captain into.
“Paddling out it just seemed to get bigger and bigger – eight-foot-plus,” he said.
“Then I saw (big-wave surfer) Koby Abberton out there and it hit me that the surf was massive.”
Wisemantel must have missed the news about the cyclones; he was surfing the remnants of Neville and Olga.
Only then did he pull the pin, directing his fly-half to head south-west, across the swell, with Bronte Surf Club as a target.
But while the coach paddled to safety, the surf dictated to Barnes and he ended up stranded on the rock face that separates Bronte from Tamarama.
“He was just hanging from the rocks getting smashed,” he said.
“His board was dangling below copping a pounding too.”
Wisemantel made dry land and alerted the lifeguards to his mate; both directed the prone playmaker to jump back into the water and make his way around the rocks.
“He had to get out of there, no point hanging on the rocks getting belted,” he said.
Barnes finally made it back to shore, minus his board, but cut head-to-toe from the barnacles and rocks.
“He looked like someone had gone at him with a razorblade,” Wisemantel said.
“Lucky he had a steamer on or it would have been much worse.”
Wisemantel described his time on the beach waiting for his mate as harrowing, with thoughts of head coach Chris Hickey’s wrath prevalent.
But that didn’t stop the Lennox larrikin from making the most of the situation when Barnes made it ashore.
“I couldn’t stop laughing at him,” Wisemantel said.
“I told him it was a life experience and if he can get through that the Kiwi forward pack is a piece of cake.”
For the record, the Waratahs land in enemy territory on Friday for their clash with the Queensland Reds – luckily for all there is no surf in the Brisbane River.