Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Head Coach Trent Barrett joined SEN's Jimmy Smith to speak about the club's pre-season, the Sharks trial and heading into round one against the Newcastle Knights.
How are things at Belmore? How are you settling in?
It's going good. We've had a long preseason, like everybody. It was good to get that trial out of the road last weekend and we can get a look at a few blokes that haven't played a lot of footy over the last 12 months and all our new guys that have come to the club as well. There were some good things in that trial that we got out of it, but certainly some things we need to improve as well.
What impact for those guys who haven't played much footy or will it take time before that plays itself out Trent do you think?
There was a lot of guys at the back end of our squad that didn't play much footy. They were obviously glad to get a run under their belts, but the training that we do is pretty much game simulated anyway, so we don't think there will be too many problems. It was more just getting some combinations and particularly with our edges. I think 50% of our side last week hadn't played together before and there'll be another few guy’s that get thrown into that mix next week. It may take some time, certainly still think we can go out there and beat Newcastle, but we're going to have to play very well.
Are you settled on your team just yet?
We are. I have been pretty well settled with who we thought was going to make up our best 17. We have still got Luke Thompson who won't be available for a month due to his suspension, but we should have a few blokes back in round one that didn't play in that trial as well. We have got a little bit of depth in certain positions and I'm just looking forward to watching them play.
Trial Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Sharks
Will Jake Averillo be one of those players? There's an arm injury that has kept him out.
We’re hopeful. He is back doing full contact, so we're hopeful he'll be available to be selected and Dylan Napa will be close, as will Faitala-Mariner. We have still got a few sessions to get through before they're declared fully fit, but we'll give them every chance. They have been training really well and there certainly won't be an issue with the kilometres in their legs. They’ve been able to run, but just haven't been able to do the contact stuff.
Three years as Manly Head Coach from 2016 to 2018. Once semi-finalists, what were your key take outs from your time at Manly Trent?
There was a lot Jimmy and probably can't get through them all, but the biggest thing is to be patient. We all want a quick fix, and we want things done or we want to win tomorrow, and we want to win Grand Finals tomorrow, but these things take time. That certainly is the big goal, but there's going to be some bumps along the road, and we've got to make sure we put the building blocks in place that we are going to be a top four team or a team that's in the semi-finals every year and that's the goal. It does take some planning. We need to make sure that the culture at the club's right and we've got the right players in the right positions at the right age and the right mix of experience and youth and there's a lot of things to go into it. I think we're on the right track. I'm excited by what they can do and just hopefully we can really improve on what we did last year and get off to a good start against Newcastle.
Have you put any team goals around what you want to achieve this year? Or is it just looking for continual improvement?
That's been a main focus of the preseason. It doesn't matter what happens yesterday or what's on tomorrow, today's our main focus whatever session it is. Whether it's in the gym, the wrestle room, a video or a training session - we've got to be present, on task and make sure we nail whatever we're doing. If we can continually do that over the course of the preseason, throughout our training and throughout our game days, you're going to get better. That's the only thing that can happen and it's been a big focus for us.
We had Kyle Flanagan on the program last week he was singing your praises. What do you like about your new halfback?
His toughness has really shone out of the last few months and even on the weekend. We need to take some pressure off Kyle though. I need all of our spine to participate in the game and have an even share of the footy, particularly with our kicking game. We need some variation there and the more that our spine plays together, the better they're going to be. None of these players or only half of them have played together before. Between our five-eighth, hooker and our fullback, we all need to share the workload a little bit. That's going to be important for Kyle, but he's a competitor, he's a calm head and he's going to get better and better as the season goes on.
Flanagan happy to get through first hit out in blue
What was your take on the amendments that the league is made to refereeing and interpretations for season 2021 Trent?
It was a little bit different. It's more about how you're getting the ball in good ball. We were used to about 10 tap set starts last year, and I think we only had two on the weekend. A lot of our good ball was coming off scrums or the back of six to go’s. All teams will adapt over the first month of the competition and I think the teams that have probably got the most settled spines will adapt quicker. The game of chess has been taken out a little bit, because it's a continual flow from transition into good ball. You need to be able to think on your feet. You need players that can react and play off the cuff. We will train accordingly and have been, but it will take a little bit of time.
Catch the full interview below!