Is Trent Barrett on borrowed time at the Bulldogs?

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Trent Barrett (pictured) looking frustrated on the sideline during a Bulldogs match.
Trent Barrett (pictured) has the backing of the club and its board, but the NRL world is waiting for him to prove himself as a top coach. (Getty Images)

If you wrote Trent Barrett's coaching epitaph right now, Bunnings garden furniture, emotional breakdowns, internal feuds and record defeats would feature heavily.

It's a convenient narrative for his many critics to point to in dismissing his coaching credentials.

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With Bob Fulton's imprimatur, Barrett took the Manly job in 2016 under trying conditions, inheriting the position from Geoff Toovey after the club legend was unceremoniously dumped for siding with the wrong camp in Manly's viper's nest of a boardroom.

It was a club divided and coming to the end of a long premiership window, with Anthony Watmough, Kieran Foran and Glenn Stewart gone and Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai and Brett Stewart all winding down brilliant careers.

The Sea Eagles drifted to 13th in a season that saw the real emergence of a young bloke by the name of Tom Trbojevic.

With another year under his belt – and with a roster more to his moulding – Barrett guided Manly to sixth spot before a controversial loss to Penrith ended the finals campaign in week one.

Suddenly Barrett was hot property and Manly bosses fell over themselves signing him to a new deal that took him until the end of the 2020 season.

Within 12 months he was gone, walking out after a spat with chairman Scott Penn and CEO Lyall Gorman over a series of broken promises and lack of resources at the club.

His list of grievances included having to supply his own furniture for players to sit on – a statement that will be forever tattooed to his forehead.

Penrith looked past the chairs and tables and saw something in Barrett, taking him on as Ivan Cleary's right-hand man and almost pulling off a premiership win last year.

There has been no such success in Barrett's first year at Canterbury, just loss after loss.

Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett (pictured middle) looks on during the round eight NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels.
Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett (pictured middle) looks on during the round eight NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

There have been mitigating circumstances and the board is unwavering in its support for the coach, but the time for excuses is over.

In Steve Hansen and Phil Gould, the Bulldogs have two of the finest minds in either rugby code overseeing and guiding their off-field planning.

The club wants for nothing in facilities, resources and money and have Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Burton, Matt Dufty and Brent Naden on their way to Belmore, with Tevita Pangai Jnr and Paul Vaughan set to join them.

Gould will also ship out the dead wood, ensuring an average roster suddenly has a competitive look to it.

So can Trent Barrett actually coach?

Gould, Cleary and Fulton obviously thought so.

The rest of the rugby league world is about to find out.

Lachlan Lewis out of his mind and out the door

Former Manly half-back Johnny Gibbs remembers sitting in the dressing-room before his first grade debut when his heard his name being shouted out by the opposition.

"So there I am…with the paper-thin walls at Lidcombe Oval and (Wests coach) Roy Masters is telling his players 'if that little surfie Gibbs gets the ball, I want his legs broken'," Gibbs recalled.

"I'm sitting there listening to all this. They didn't break my legs but the first time I touched the ball Tommy (Raudonikis) was onto me trying to bite my nose off.

"They didn't let up with the talk all game – no subject was off limit. Welcome to first grade, son."

Ricky Stuart was another legendary sledger, find a rival's weakness and working on with a running commentary throughout the game.

Lachlan Lewis (pictured right) of the Bulldogs receives attention during the round four NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Stadium Australia, on April 02, 2021, in Sydney, Australia.
Lachlan Lewis (pictured right) of the Bulldogs receives attention during the round four NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Stadium Australia, on April 02, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Some of it cut so deep even Stuart's team-mates would wince and later extend their sympathy to the victim.

So when Canterbury's Lachlan Lewis reacted so manically to Cody Walker's sledge last Sunday, you immediately thought it must have been something at the high-end of the Richter scale to elicit such a reaction.

A dig at a family member? A personal attack?

Nope. All it took for Lewis to go all Bruce Lee was a simple: "Go back to reserve grade" with a few choice expletives throw in.

No wonder Lewis is on the outer at Belmore.

Holy Moses

We wonder how those who criticised Mitchell Moses' Origin III performance are feeling now it’s been revealed he played for 70 minutes with a fracture in his back?

Moses has only grown in Brad Fittler's estimations and will remain his second choice half-back behind Nathan Cleary.

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

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