Former Dally M medallist and new Panthers assistant coach, Trent Barrett, believes Penrith’s new-look 2013 side will be one to watch come round one next year.
Barrett joined Penrith’s coaching ranks late last month to help head coach Ivan Clearly mentor incumbent halves Lachlan Coote and Luke Walsh. Barrett said there was plenty of NRL clubs chasing his signature but it was his relationship with Penrith boss, Phil Gould, that sealed the deal.
“I’ve known Gus for a long time and have a very close relationship with him, he gives me advice on lots of things,” he said.
“I could’ve gone to another couple of clubs but Penrith seemed a good fit for me. They’ve got a lot of improvement in them and I think there’s something to work with there in their halves.”
Barrett’s two-year deal at the Panthers will see him work as the club’s halves coach in 2013 before joining Cleary’s coaching team as a full-time assistant in 2014.
“My role will evolve over the course of the pre-season, the next few weeks are really just about gaining the players’ trust and getting to know them a bit better,” he said.
Penrith have recruited arguably the best out of any other club for 2013, and Barrett believes the mix between the old and the new brigade will turn the Panthers into a force for years to come.
“Every club would be optimistic at this time of year but I think the guys that Penrith have bought are all genuine first grade players,” he said.
“Players like Sika Manu, Lewis Brown and Dean Whare have all played big games – test football for their country as well as semi-finals and grand finals.
“James Segeyaro is another player who I think is really exciting and will change the dynamics of our team. I certainly think the team can make the eight, after that it’s a new competition.”
It’s no secret that Barrett wants to be a full-time NRL coach somewhere down the track. He’s currently the coach of the Country Origin side and was one of the frontrunners for the NSW Blues coaching position, which went to Laurie Daley.
The 34-year-old hopes his time at the Panthers will be the perfect stepping stone for a crack at a top job.
“Seeing what Ivan did at the Warriors and some of the hard decisions he’s had to make coming to Penrith, I think I will definitely learn a lot from him,” he said.
“I think having Gus there, also, to pick his brain about footy and how the football club runs, from a business point of view, is really important for a coach to understand as well.”