Canterbury Bulldogs – Barrett Is And Isn’t The Answer

Trent Barrett

19 Wins from 57 games were Dean Pay’s atrocious record at the helm of the Bulldogs. On the flip side though, it came from a lack of $$$ to spend at the club, combined with a relatively inexperienced roster.

There was also the school-girl sex scandal that saw both Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor sacked from Canterbury and then re-registered again. That escapade cost the club a huge sponsorship deal with massive restaurant chain Rashays.

And as things currently stand, the bewildered franchise is dead last in the NRL with 1 win from 9 attempts. Even the 15th placed Titans have 3 victories this campaign. They are in all sorts of strife both on and off the field.

To make matters even worse, the previously mentioned Pay just walked out on the club. A Bankstown legend treated horribly. Who on earth would want to coach this joke of a club now? Trent Barrett’s the name and Rugby League is his game. Countless reports and rumours are linking him to the club.

Here I’m going to look deep into both why he would want to join the club and also why he wouldn’t wish to become their newest head coach. And also, why he both would and wouldn’t be the right man for the now-vacated role. Let’s get into it.

Pro’s and Con’s for one of the NRL’s most famous names

Across his long and illustrious career, he played just under 300 club games (295), for all of Illawarra, Wigan and then Cronulla combined. He also repped NSW on 11 occasions and Australia on 15. He scored an amazing total of 120 tries and also kicked 15 FG’s. He was passionate, he was elusive and silky-skilled, and he was a simply incredible halves player. There was simply nothing he couldn’t do out on the field. As a coach, he was more questionable, however, as he had just a 40% winning percentage as coach of Manly. He lost 43 games and won only 29. And he also was victorious in just 2/4 games in charge of the Country Origin side whilst that was still around.

In favour of Barrett joining the Doggies, his reputation as both as a manager and a communicator was severely tarnished during his time on the Northern Beaches and there isn’t exactly a long line of clubs looking to snap him up. His image was hurt at Manly and that no doubt has turned a lot of clubs of the idea of potentially hiring him. He also missed the finals with the Sea Eagles, which they hadn’t done in a long time before his arrival.

Generally speaking, there aren’t many positives to take from his 3-year tenure at the club. So, if he were to join Canterbury, it would give him a humungous chance to rebuild his shattered reputation as a coach and would allow him to potentially succeed in the NRL, just like he did as an athlete.

Now against him filling the role vacated by Pay. Pay has a similarly damaged coaching-record to that of what Barrett currently has. And just like Pay, Barrett is also still relatively inexperienced as a head coach. So, if Pay couldn’t succeed, why would Barrett?

Yes, I believe that Trent or whoever fills the role, will be given more money to spend on the shape of the squad, but what decent players would be attracted to the Bulldogs at the moment? None is the harsh, but real answer. He’d be stuck paying overs for average players, which traditionally speaking, never really works out well for most clubs.

Regardless of whoever takes charge of Canterbury, they are highly unlikely to win anything due to the likes of current-powerhouse teams such as Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. I strongly believe that even Bellamy or Bennett themselves would struggle to turn this dysfunctional franchise around. And it’s widely regarded that this would be Barrett’s last roll of the dice as a head-manager, if that’s truly the case, then why would he use it on a poor opportunity such as this one.

He’s both a good and a bad fit for the club

The Bulldogs are struggling in scoring points this season. They are at around just 10 per game. Last season without Barrett on the staff. The Panthers were averaging 17ppg, now they are at 22. As an assistant-coach at Penrith, Barret has had a massive influence on their attack. It should also be noted that Penrith is currently sitting in 2nd, while Canterbury is down in 16th position.

Another factor going in Barrett’s favour is the fact that Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, one of the most exciting players at the club, is a former Penrith man and Barrett could help him thrive in the FB role, which in turn, the whole starting 13 would be able to feed off. Whilst other attacking geniuses such as Hopoate and Holland, he would also be able to help massively lift their games from a good/average to a great level as well. There are countless reasons as to why he would fit in perfectly at the club.

Now against the man nicknamed “Bazza”. Canterbury is struggling and needs a real stern hand to lead the way. Various rumours were floating around that Pay lost the support of the dressing room. Ironically that appears to to be what happened with Barrett in Manly.

The Dogs need someone strong-minded and as a coach, Barrett mightn’t be the one for that. With a young squad, they would need a harder person to be the coach and Barrett doesn’t particularly fit that billing. The Bulldogs should also most definitely be aiming for a more experienced manager/ somebody with a history of success, who’s also strong-willed enough to enact real change in the dressing room.

The Bulldogs can’t afford to get this one wrong again, which is why somebody such as an Anthony Griffin, Geoff Toovey or  Tim Sheens makes more sense. With all due respect to Barrett, he just doesn’t possess what they do. Griff is experienced. Toovey knows how to win. And Sheens is amazing at re-building jobs. In all fairness to Barrett, whilst a lot works in his favour, a lot also works against him.

So, there you have it, why Barrett is both a great and also a terrible man for the job currently open in Belmore. He has the potential to be both a great or a crap coach. There might be no real in-between for him, unfortunately. Best of luck to him if he gets it. Based on the Bulldogs form recently, he’ll need it, that’s for sure. But one thing is for certain, Barrett sure as hell is an interesting and polarising coach.

Toby is somebody who is a knowledgeable and passionate sports fan, but none more than the NRL. From a young age, he has been covering and supporting Australia’s greatest code. He has diplomas in both sports and business, while he loves a good laugh, some good food and travelling.

You don't have permission to register