Former Comets coach Wayne Barnett has broken into the NRL system with the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Former Comets coach Wayne Barnett has broken into the NRL system with the Canterbury Bulldogs. Allan Reinikka Rokwayne

Barnett lands dream job in NRL

FORMER Comets (now Capras) coach Wayne Barnett could hardly keep the smile off his face as he told the story of how he secured a position with an NRL club next year.

The affable Barnett was not required by the Capras and he accepted the situation and moved on.

However, even he is amazed at the way everything has fallen into place, not only for his own ambitions but also for his family.

Barnett has accepted the position of Canterbury Bulldogs' development coach and will work with players in the club system in the under-15s, under-17s and also a sprinkling of the under-20s.

"I sent the club my CV and they said they liked the look of it," he said.

With Barnett installed in the Bulldogs' NRL system it might appear to be another pathway for ambitious young players from Central Queensland to get into the Bulldogs' development program.

However, despite knowing the local stars of the future and accepting CQ has a lot of untapped talent, Barnett has first to find out what the established pathways are at his new club.

There was one slight hiccup, as Barnett gained the position before the arrival of Des Hasler from Manly and had to travel to Sydney again to ensure the agreement was still binding.

It was, and Barnett and family leave Rockhampton on December 12.

"It has all come about pretty quick," he said.

Barnett said he was going to Sydney anyway, because his partner Sarah had accepted a job at Parramatta.

The most recent trip to the Bulldogs gave Barnett an opportunity to have a brief meeting with head coach Hasler, a playing hero of Barnett's, as well as meeting chief executive Todd Greenberg.

"He (Hasler) has great respect around the club," he said. "That is with the administration and the players. He left with a good record at Manly, both as a player and a coach."

Barnett said Hasler brought a fresh vision to the Bulldogs and he was excited to be a part of the changes within the club.

This week Barnett is back in Sydney, where he will have a more meaningful meeting with Hasler and the rest of coaching team.

Barnett's new position allows access to all of the club's training sessions, including those of Hasler, which is good for the ambitious Barnett, who always wanted to be a part of the NRL system.

Apart from the couple both gaining work, on their recent trip they house-hunted successfully, a property large enough for the children's horse, and then found an ideal school, which has accepted the children for next year.

Nevertheless, the likeable Kiwi leaves the area with some regrets.

He said 2009 was the highlight of his short coaching career.

The club tried to follow up that success but injuries and a lack of depth ended those ambitions.

"With the players we had last season we under-performed," he said.

While not making excuses, Barnett said the behind-the-scenes problems did not make the task any easier for the players.

"We had no CEO for three or four months and that has to have an effect," he said.

HAVING to cover some of the chief executive's duties had a positive effect for Barnett, because it gave him a perspective of how a club runs beyond the coaching department.

He was an interested bystander for the Capras' first session under new coach John Harbin, gaining the opportunity to see which players were putting their hands up to play in the Queensland Cup next year.

"I still have a vested interest in nine or 10 players who were part of last year's squad," he said.

"It was James Crombie who said come down and take a look."

Barnett was happy to see the number of young, local players showing interest and he hoped Harbin has better luck than he did in keeping them in the club's program all season.

"It is a significant leap from Rockhampton local league to the Queensland Cup," he said.

"If you don't give the Queensland Cup the respect it deserves then you feel the backlash."

From his experience, enthusiasm only takes a team part of the way and experience is a major requirement for success, especially for the team's playmakers.

Plans to groom Johnathon Tavinor ended this year when he broke an ankle early in the season and didn't play a major role in the team after that.

After six years with the club, Barnett takes away a lot of happy memories.

He also feels the same about the area he is leaving.

"We've fallen in love with Queensland, especially Rockhampton, Mackay and Gladstone," he said.

"We have made a lot of friends here.

"I'll certainly be watching for the Capras' results."

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