Trent Barrett reveals new challenge

He's gone from one of Laurie Daley's right-hand men to a self-confessed teacher of the "catch and pass" yet Trent Barrett admitted he has never been more challenged in his fledgling coaching career.

Still open to the idea of taking on a top job in the NRL one day, Barrett's apprenticeship has been focused on Penrith's under-20s side while he assists Ivan Cleary this year.

It means a 90-minute trip each day from his Illawarra base to Sydney's west - and back again - but it's one he doesn't dwell on.

It will all be worth it if the former Dragons skipper lands an NRL head coaching role after he stepped down from NSW's support staff for this year's State Of Origin series.

"It's certainly something I'd like to do," Barrett told the Mercury. "I enjoy coaching and it's good fun.

"Footy is pretty much all I've ever done. If that comes about, that would be great but I'm happy doing what I'm doing at the moment and learning something new every week."

Barrett's initiation with Penrith's National Youth Competition side [last year's premiers] didn't start well after they stumbled to an opening-round loss against Newcastle.

He knows career development and progression is often more important than wins and losses with 'Generation Next', a concept foreign when his sole purpose with the Blues was to end Queensland's Origin dynasty.

"I think handling that elite player and managing that elite player is a challenge, but that's something I really enjoy," said Barrett, who ironically played in the last series NSW won [2005].

"I've probably found it more challenging with the 20s to be honest.

"You have to be very patient with them and you take a lot of things for granted with first graders and rep players.

"They're the basic things: the catch and pass and their tackling technique . . . teaching them about the game more or less.

"They [Origin players] are at the top of the tree in what they do but we've got to teach these young guys and help them every week."

One man Barrett had a first-hand look at in Penrith's top squad is former St George Illawarra enigma Jamie Soward.

To draw parallels between the pair, and their time at the Dragons, would be easy considering the huge pressure an expectant fan base placed on each.

That's the reason Cleary and Barrett released the valve with Soward at Penrith.

"We haven't put too much pressure on him and we're not expecting him to come out and be the saviour," Barrett said.

"He's going to be very good for us but we just need him fully fit. He and Peter Wallace work well together.

"Wal provides a really steady hand for us and he's very calm. I think that showed at the back end of the game the other night."

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