He was one of Australia"s early dual-code rugby internationals. A hooker/prop with the Newtown Rugby Union club in Sydney, Barnett was selected a total of 5 international rugby times to play for Australia. His debut game was against New Zealand, at Sydney, on 20 July 1907.
Barnett was selected to the first Wallaby 1908-1909 Australia rugby union tour of the British Isles and France, the squad captained by Herbert Moran.
On his return to Australia he joined the fledgling code of rugby league along with fourteen of his Olympic teammates. Barnett and five other gold medal winning Wallabies joined the Newtown club in Sydney in 1910 where he played the next six seasons.
He was selected in both Ashes Tests against Great Britain in 1910 when Australia hosted the tourists. Barnett made his international league debut in the First Test in Sydney on 18 June 1910.
Four of his former Wallaby team mates also debuted that day Bob Craig, Jack Hickey, Charles Russell and Chris McKivat - making them collectively Australia"s 11th to 15th dual code internationals.
This mirrored a similar occurrence two years earlier when five former Wallabies in Micky Dore, Dally Messenger, Denis Lutge, Doug McLean snr and Johnny Rosewell all debuted for the Kangaroos in the same match — the first ever Test against New Zealand. Barnett died on 2 October 1918, aged 38 at the Parramatta District Hospital from the effects of meningitis after a three-week battle with pneumonia. He was buried at Rookwood Cemetery on 4 October 1918.
As a tribute to "Towser" Barnett, a fund was set up by "the Referee" newspaper to raise money for his widow and family.
By the November the fund had raised over £64, many donations were made up by his first grade rugby mates, at a time when spare money was often in short supply.