Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has refused to answer questions on the infamous slap he gave to Trent Barrett 13 years ago as he prepares to go head-to-head with his former charge.
In his first year back in the NRL heading up Newcastle, Brown faces Manly mentor Barrett, in his maiden season as a first grade coach, on Anzac Day at Hunter Stadium.
The match-up has already created headlines this week but Brown isn’t keen to add to that.
“Any questions about Trent Barrett and she’s all over,” Brown declared on Tuesday at the start of his scheduled media conference at the Knights’ Wests Mayfield base.
It is something Barrett hasn’t been too keen on talking about either. Journalists were advised on Monday at the Sea Eagles’ Narrabeen training base that Barrett wanted to hold an unscheduled media opportunity to discuss the matter and get it out of the way. However, the opportunity never materialised.
When asked after Thursday night’s loss to Parramatta, if he was looking forward to going up against Brown, Barrett replied: “Not really.
“It is another game, worth another two points. They are going okay. Newcastle are always hard to beat at home. That won’t change. It is an important game for us and we have nine days to prepare for it.”
The relationship between Sea Eagles coach Barrett and his Newcastle opposite Brown will be forever framed by the latter’s infamous face slap on the former in 2003 at WIN Stadium.
Brown was then coach of St George Illawarra and Barrett was his star playmaker.
Brown was instead keen on Tuesday to continue railing against holes he said existed in the NRL’s concussion laws.
“I can show you footage of blokes being knocked out and staying on the field. I can show you footage of blokes having absolutely no concussion and coming off the field (for a head injury assessment),” Brown said.
“You can see it as plain as day. Coaches are always going to rort the system when they can.
“That is the nature of sport. Coaches manipulate – that’s what we do. If a new rule comes in, someone tries to beat that rule.”