Don't be fooled by Trent Barrett's calmness, the country drawl he still possesses more than 20 years after leaving Temora as a teenager or the fact he is only the second coach recruited from the staff of a rival club in Manly's 70-year history.
"We still feel like it's us against everyone else," Barrett said. "That is a very strong part of the culture here and Manly have been extremely successful over a long period of time so I don't want to lose that."
It's still Manly against the world, it always has been
The former Illawarra, St George Illawarra and Cronulla playmaker is just the third outsider to have coached the Sea Eagles, after Graham Lowe and Peter Sharp and when you visit Manly's headquarters at Narrabeen it is easy to get the impression that Barrett has had more influence on their culture than the club has had on him.
Unfair and dangerous: Manly coach Trent Barrett is not a fan of the 2016 NRL draw. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
The famed Manly siege mentality, which was so evident under the coaching eras of Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey, is nowhere to be seen and even a double booking with a presentation by RLPA bosses Ian Prendergast and Clint Newton caused no real problem for the media, who were afforded the time with the players they had been promised by the club without any complaint from the Sea Eagles stars.
Sure there may be 12 new faces in the Manly squad and it is early in the year but long-serving players such as Brett Stewart and Daly Cherry-Evans were equally as welcoming.
"Every coach is different, 'Toovs' was different to Dessie and 'Baz' is different to those two as well," Stewart said. "He is a pretty calm sort of coach and I think that is contagious throughout the team as well. He doesn't get flustered and I think you might see a little bit of that throughout the games as well, with players not getting flustered on the field."
Yet while referees can probably breath easier with Barrett in charge, the 38-year-old said he would still rely on the "us against the world" attitude that has fuelled Manly's success since the famed Silvertails v Fibros wars of the late 1970s.
"What we say behind closed doors compared to what we portray publicly might be a bit different," Barrett said. "You've got to pick your battles, I guess."
The stand-off between the Sea Eagles and the NRL over John Hopoate's appointment as SG Ball coach is the first real example of that under Barrett's tenure, while he criticised the Auckland Nines as "dangerous" and "risky" after Jamie Buhrer (jaw) and Jayden Hodges (knee) suffered serious injuries in the tournament.
"It's still Manly against the world, it always has been," skipper Jamie Lyon said. "Baz has taken to it like a fish to water.
"He is a big believer in all of the tradition and the culture of the club, he is going to drive it and he has been so we have been really enjoying his coaching."
Despite no experience as an NRL head coach, Barrett was targeted by influential Manly consultant Bob Fulton as a replacement for Toovey and his mid-year departure as Penrith assistant is viewed by some as a significant reason why the Panthers finished the season so poorly that coach Ivan Cleary was sacked.
Coincidentally, Fulton is the only other coach to have been recruited by the Sea Eagles from a rival club, with the Manly great having left to join Eastern Suburbs in 1978 before becoming captain-coach and then non-playing coach of the Roosters. He returned in 1983 and took the Sea Eagles to two premierships in 1987 and 1996.
Walking into a new club as an outsider, and especially one with as many senior players as Manly, may appear daunting after the turmoil that has wracked the Sea Eagles in recent seasons but Barrett is full of praise for the likes of Stewart, Lyon, Steve Matai, Cherry-Evans, Nate Myles, Lewis Brown and Martin Taupau.
"There is no bull**** about them senior blokes, they are men's men and that is good," Barrett said.
The Manly players believe Barrett is destined for a long and successful coaching career, with Brown saying. "He is very smart, he sees stuff on video or on the field that you don't really see yourself and that is what you want to learn. As a player you want to be taught stuff from a coach and I have learned a few things off Baz already."
Brown had played under Barrett at Penrith but Queensland Origin hardman Nate Myles did not know him before joining the Sea Eagles this season.
"I consider Craig Fitzgibbon to be a good judge of people and he was always talking highly of Baz," Myles said of the former St George Illawarra and Sydney Roosters lock, who is now an assistant coach at the Roosters.
"I had heard so many good things about him and at the moment, the way he gets the boys up for every session and makes them get the most out of every session, has been great."
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