Siam success would be best way for ‘Barno’ to bow out
ONE of the best players – if not the best – ever to wear a Guernsey shirt bows out on the biggest stage a Raider can tomorrow.
Malcolm Barnes arrived in the island in November 2011 with, quite literally, a Super Rugby reputation from his native New Zealand and there were YouTube compilations to prove it.
Over the subsequent seven-and-a-half years he has proved to be a class act, both on and off the pitch, his ability with ball in hand matched by his modesty.
In that time, he has returned from a spate of serious injuries, including a broken neck, to continue to deliver for Guernsey, mainly at scrum-half, although he has shone wherever Jordan Reynolds has asked him to play, which Barnes himself reckoned has been ‘anywhere from six through to 15’.
Those physical setbacks have seen him mention the possibility of retirement on more than one occasion previously, but this time it is final – tomorrow’s Siam Cup defence in Jersey will be his last game.
‘It is my choice – I think I’m ready now,’ said the 34-year-old, with a typical grin.
‘Since I got here I’ve had a couple of major injuries – the neck obviously, and then the [broken] elbow and the cheekbone at the end of last year in November – so to get through all those and still be on my feet running around is absolutely fantastic, so hopefully I’ll be able to walk still in five or 10 years if I knock it on the head now,’ he added chuckling.
Of course, Barnes still has a crucial role to play in the future of Guernsey Raiders as assistant coach to Jordan Reynolds, but the ideal way of signing off his playing career would be to feature in a winning Siam team for the first time to add to the other highlights he has enjoyed.
‘My first season coming into the club was a promotion year, we went up to National Three, and last year was the second promotion after that so, yeah, that was probably the highlight.
‘To go on and win the Siam last year as well, albeit I didn’t take part because I was injured in the promotion play-off the week before, but I was part of the coaching staff so that counts!
‘It is very good to get the opportunity to go out starting at No. 9, which is my preferred position, but I have enjoyed playing the other positions, and it has sort of helped with my assistant coaching role as well to understand what those players go through in those positions on the field.'
- More in Friday's Guernsey Press.