chuffed at selection

Trent Barrett says he's happy to play anywhere after being recalled to the Australian rugby league team for the first time in three years.

The St George Illawarra skipper today replaced Penrith utility Craig Gower on the bench for Australia's Tri-Nations return bout against New Zealand in Auckland on Friday night.

Coach Wayne Bennett said although Gower was being rested as much as anything else, Barrett deserved a chance to push his claims for permanent inclusion in the Kangaroos line-up after an outstanding end to the NRL season with the Dragons.

"I said last week it wasn't a closed shop yet. We don't want to not give guys who are on tour an opportunity. Barrett's such a class player, so put him on the bench and give him an opportunity this wee was really good last week. I certainly had no criticism at what he did... it's just giving someone an opportunity."

Although Barrett has been a standout for the Dragons in his preferred five-eighth role, Bennett said the 27-year-old will not be jumping the queue and pushing Australian captain Darren Lockyer out of position at any time in this week's match.

"Trent can fill a number of positions for us and we've just got to see what happens on the day and wherever we need Trent that's where we'll play him," he said.

That includes hooker, but Barrett is unfazed at the prospect of sticking his head in the front row of a scrum.

"If I have to play there, it doesn't worry me," he said. "I've played there before in patches in Origin, a few years ago now but I'd certainly put my hand up to play in that position if Danny Buderus gets tired.

"And, if there's an injury anywhere, I'll be happy to play wherever he (Bennett) puts me."

Barrett played the last of his seven tests in 2001, also against New Zealand, in Wellington and said he was chuffed to have finally earned a recall after three injury-marred international seasons.

"It seems I've had a lot of things happen in between that time and I'm just really glad to be back," he said, adding missing out on a starting berth wasn't a disappointment.

"I'm happy to be in the 17. I couldn't ask for too much. I haven't played test footy for a couple of years.

"I'm just happy to be in there somewhere. It's given me a chance to try to make the starting side.

"This is just another step that I've got to take to try to do it."

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