Barrett spills the beans on DCE
IT has been the State of Origin motto for 39 years - state against state, mate against mate.
Former Manly coach and ex-Blues star Trent Barrett was invited to help with NSW training on Thursday - and vowed to divulge any information and background he had about good friend and Queensland captain, Daly Cherry-Evans.
Barrett and Cherry-Evans were close when together at Manly, the pair staying friends despite the Sea Eagles coach's surprise departure from Brookvale after last year.
But a long-held dislike for the enemy - Queensland - will prompt Barrett to hand over all relevant intel about Cherry-Evans.
Wearing a Blues tracksuit, Barrett was on the field for the entire two-hour training session on Thursday at NSWRL's centre of excellence inside Sydney Olympic Park. He watched, digested and chatted regularly with NSW coaching staff.
Barrett, mates with Blues coach Brad Fittler, will stay close to the NSW camp until kick-off on Wednesday night.
"I think it's a good effort from 'Cherry' just to make the field with what he's been through last year and the year before that, he's been playing really consistent footy," Barrett said. "He's started off really well this year with Manly.
"But we can stop him. There are a lot of threats outside of Cherry. Kalyn Ponga is frightening. Cameron Munster can win games on his own as well.
"Chez (Cherry-Evans) is obviously very important to them, he's their halfback, but I'm sure our boys will do a good job. He's worked hard and a lot of people don't see how hard Chez works. It's just rewards for his efforts.
"It's been a fair turnaround from a player who was struggling to get back into that side and is now captain. From a personal point of view I'm really happy for him, but with my NSW hat on, it's all about Freddy's team.
"We all want NSW to win. I'm a NSW man, and really happy with the team Freddy has picked. Brad is a very good friend of mine. Any input any ex-player would be able to give would give it."
Asked did he feel guilty given he was scheming against Cherry-Evans, Barrett said: "No.''
Barrett even questioned whether Cherry-Evans would be ready for Origin I having not played for six weeks through an ankle injury.
"Coming off surgery he will be underdone, it's not as if he's easing his way back into first grade - he's going straight to the highest level," Barrett said.
It has been 270 days since Barrett walked onto a footy training field. His last official duty with rugby league was as Manly coach in a round 25 match against Brisbane on September 2 last year.
Barrett will continue to be paid by Manly until his notice his expires in July. He has strongly been linked to a return with St George Illawarra as an assistant coach to Paul McGregor.
"It's always good to be back around the footy, I enjoy it, that's what we do, what I've always done, and I have missed the daily interaction that comes with coaching. There's two more months to go," Barrett said.
"I'll see what happens. It's been a difficult one and there are things I can't talk about. But I'm extremely keen to get back into it. You miss it, but also terrific to spend time with the kids. Three years you don't know how much it consumes you until you pull yourself out of it.''
Fittler has a strong and healthy respect for Barrett as a player and coach.
"We are always talking about footy, one way or the other, what's happening. So he came out today. Any of the old Blues want to come out and watch, they can," Fittler said.
"I don't want to put him under pressure with manly but analyses. He is actually watching more football. He said watches more now than he has ever watched. He's got a lot of time. Trent is very astute, he knows the game and his knows this game (Origin)."
Another full of praise for Barrett was NSW enforcer David Klemmer.
"I respect Trent Barrett so much. What he did as a coach and in his footy career. He was an exceptional player," Klemmer said.
"Trent has a lot of knowledge about rugby league. I was just happy to shake his hand and be around him."