Brisbane - Australia's backline depth for the Rugby World Cup has been boosted by the expected return of scrumhalf Luke Burgess this week and a declaration by Berrick Barnes that he's ready to come back for the Wallabies following a self-imposed career break brought on by a series of head knocks.
Australia coach Robbie Deans confirmed on Monday that Burgess was available for selection for this weekend's Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Auckland, five weeks after breaking his hand ahead of the Waratahs' Super 15 playoff match against the Blues.
Deans will name his 22-man squad on Tuesday, with Burgess likely to get a call up in place of Nick Phipps as reserve scrumhalf for Will Genia.
Barnes, meanwhile, scored 27 points in University's 57-20 win over Northern Suburbs in a Sydney club match on the weekend.
On June 13, Barnes announced he was taking an indefinite break from rugby, but was hopeful of returning in time to gain selection for the World Cup.
He has played two club matches since returning to rugby and says it has given him a confidence boost.
"I definitely feel I could be part of the (Australian) training squad. I feel good enough," Barnes was quoted as saying in Monday's The Australian newspaper. "These games have been very beneficial."
Deans is expected to announce his World Cup squad on August 18.
Australia opened its international season with an upset loss to Samoa in Sydney before rebounding to beat a below-strength South Africa squad 39-20 the following weekend in the opening match of the Tri-Nations tournament.
New Zealand thrashed South Africa 40-7 last weekend and is set to be close to full strength for Saturday's match against the Wallabies.