He might be on the cusp of owning the worst start ever as a Manly coach, but Trent Barrett has been credited for keeping the Sea Eagles from falling apart this NRL season.
Barrett currently sits alongside former Manly mentors Des Hasler (2004), Wally O’Connell (1950) and Tony Paskins (1963) to have just four wins from their first 15 games in charge of the club.
However there is some hope for the rookie coach, with Hasler going on to claim two premierships in the eight seasons under his guidance, even if the first trophy didn’t come until 2008.
Ahead of Monday’s clash against St George Illawarra, Sea Eagles star Daly Cherry-Evans said Barrett has endured a difficult introduction to coaching but has played a big role in keeping the team united.
“The situations he’s been put in as a rookie coach is nothing short of unbelievable,” Cherry-Evans said.
“But I can’t fault the man in his resilience and his character, the way he’s been able to keep us together as a playing group. It’s quite easy in situations like this for playing groups to split.”
The 14th-placed Sea Eagles face off against the 10th-placed Dragons, a club where Barrett failed to bring his own premiership as a player despite being in one of the strongest sides of that era.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor, who goes head-to-head in the coaching box against a former teammate for the third time in as many weeks, felt for the under-fire Barrett.
“Baz has had a pretty tough first year. His side was benchmarked to be a top four side and it hasn’t worked out that way,” McGregor said.
“He’d be doing it tough but he’d be committed, working hard towards improving.”
Barrett has named an unchanged line-up that almost upset North Queensland in Townsville last week, although there are question marks surrounding the availability of veteran No.1 Brett Stewart.
For the Dragons, who can catapult into the top eight with a win, mid-season recruit Tariq Sims returns after sitting out last week’s win over Newcastle.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Manly have defeated St George Illawarra just eight times in 23 matches, their worst record against any team in history.
* The Dragons have an awful recent record in Monday night football, winning just twice in 17 games since late 2011, including losing their past six.
* Brett Stewart is currently in a 10-game try-less drought, easily the longest of his 14-year career.