Manly Sea Eagles Coach Trent Barrett says a change of environment and the chance to enjoy some quality time together as a team has helped reinvigorate his players after a challenging pre-season.
The Sea Eagles went into their annual pre-season camp in Wollongong on Monday, held later than usual due to players being involved in the recent Rugby League World Cup.
Barrett says the change of scenery on the South Coast from the team’s usual training environment on the Northern Beaches has had a positive effect on his players.
"It's a different environment. They have all been hard at. We all know how hot it was there for those last few weeks after Christmas,'' Barrett said.
“I’m not sure if we would have got another good week out of them if we stayed (at Narrabeen).
“I am pretty happy with where they are at heading into the trial against Cronulla next week.”
The Sea Eagles tackle Cronulla Sharks on February 17 at Southern Cross Group Stadium before taking on the Sydney Roosters in their final trial hit-out at Central Coast Stadium on February 24.
“We won’t play too many against Cronulla. I will pick our best 17 against the Roosters,’’ Barrett said.
“I do want to get a look at some of the young blokes. ‘Flano’ (Cronulla Coach Shane Flanagan) is going to do much of the same thing. It is still an important trial for us.”
Barrett said new second-rower Joel Thompson had been everything he could have wished for in just the few short weeks he has been with team.
“I needed another man around the joint and that is exactly what we have got,’’ Barrett said.
Joel is a real professional and has been good for the young blokes. He leads from the front.Trent Barrett on Joel Thompson
“Our back row looks quite settled now with Joel and ‘Siro’ (Curtis Sironen), and Jake (Trbojevic) at lock. It is a pretty solid back row for us and they have been training really well.”
As for the much speculated five-eighth position, Barrett said the trials would be a good chance to see where things were at prior to Manly’s opening premiership match against the Newcastle Knights on March 9.
“We have trained there with (Lachlan) Croker the last three months and (Jackson) Hastings as well. We have tinkered around with a few things,’’ he added.
“I’m not too concerned about it. I have got a good idea in my head of what I am going to do. All of the players in the team are really confident of it.
“The lucky thing is that we have still got ‘Turbo’ (Tom Trbojevic), ‘Cherry’ (Daly Cherry-Evans) and Api (Koroisau)…the guts of the side has been there for two years now.
“Everyone has to start somewhere, particularly like a guy like Croker. He was an Australian Schoolboys captain. If it is ‘Crokes’, I am sure he will do a very good job.
“I’m really happy with the team that we have got. It is an exciting team, it’s young, and they are hungry. “