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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 15:13 GMT
Warrior Barrett ready for battle
By Elizabeth Hudson

It is safe to say that without Trent Barrett, Wigan's 2007 Super League campaign would have been a lot less memorable.

Trent Barrett
Barrett managed 18 tries in 33 appearances last season for Wigan

The arrival of the 30-year-old stand-off in Super League was understandably greeted with much hype, given the Australian's big reputation.

After all, this was a man who had won Australia's top award, the Dally M Medal, in 2000, played a starring for St George Illawarra, and enjoyed success both in the State of Origin with New South Wales and internationally with Australia.

It would have been easy for Barrett to take the money on offer at Wigan and simply go through the motions as his career wound down, as others equally high-profile players from Down Under have done in the past.

But his first Super League campaign with the Warriors was a brilliant one, impressing not only the highly-demanding Wigan faithful but also winning praise from opposition supporters and the rugby league media in Britain.

Barrett finished as the team's top try-scorer, made it into the end of season Dream Team, won both the Players' Player of the Year and the Rugby League Writers' Player of the Year awards, and only just missed out on the Man of Steel honour.

Barrett's impressive handling, kicking and vision made a telling impact for Wigan and often left fans open-mouthed in admiration.

I don't think there is an extra burden on me to be the star

Trent Barrett

They were bowled over not just by his silky skills but by his physical toughness as he frequently found himself the subject of some tough and not always legal tackles.

Barrett's performances drew inevitable parallels with fellow Australian Brett Kenny, who helped Wigan win the 1985 Challenge Cup in one of the greatest games in the competition's history.

Now, as the new season approaches, Barrett appears comfortable with all the inevitable expectation being heaped upon him.

"I didn't really feel any extra pressure on me last season," he told BBC Sport.

"It's something I've got used to over my career. I still wanted to play well for Wigan last season and it's no different this year.

BARRETT FACTS
FAVOURITE FOOD/DRINK: Seafood/Coke
SPORTING HEROES: Steve Waugh and Greg Norman
BEST PLAYER PLAYED WITH OR AGAINST: Andrew Johns
FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION: Hayman Island, Australia
TEAMS SUPPORTED: Manchester United (but only since I've come to England) and the Australian cricket team
MOST ANNOYING HABIT: Forgetfulness
PLAYER TO WATCH THIS SEASON: Thomas Leuluai
BONDI OR BLACKPOOL: It's got to be Bondi!

"The club will expect me to perform as well as I did last year and I expect that of myself. I'm going to look forward to the challenge and I'm excited.

"I don't think there is an extra burden on me to be the star. I think it's more of a matter of getting the balance right - and I've played enough games to do that."

As for the comparisons with Kenny, he admits they they are "flattering".

"Brett was a fantastic player, certainly one of my favourites," said Barrett.

"To be mentioned in the same breath as him is very flattering, but the challenge for me this year is to repeat the form that I showed last year."

Having come close to reaching two major finals last season, surprisingly losing to the Catalans Dragons in the Challenge Cup semi-finals and Leeds in the play-offs, Barrett believes Wigan can improve in 2008.

"I don't want to put extra pressure on the club," he said. "We've got some new players, but a win at Harlequins in the opening game of the season would start things off well.

606: DEBATE

"Last season was tough at times, but I haven't enjoyed my footy as much for quite a while.

"Because I've been here for a year now, I'm pretty familiar and comfortable with relationships off the field as well as partnerships on it. It makes everything a lot easier."

The new season also gives Barrett another chance to add the Man of Steel award to his trophy cabinet, having been pipped by St Helens youngster James Roby in 2007.

"I was a bit disappointed to have missed out, but James Roby deserved the award," said a gracious Barrett.

"It meant a lot to me to win the Players' Player of the Year award. That's the award that means the most to you as a player and is something that I'll always remember. It shows that you have the respect of the players. That is a big thing."



SEE ALSO
Roby scoops Man of Steel accolade
08 Oct 07 |  Rugby League


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