TRENT Barrett has been to plenty of Trent Barrett Shield days since the junior rugby league competition was introduced, but the Wagga preliminary round on Thursday had special feel.
Hundreds of Wagga school kids got to strut their stuff in front of both City and Country teams, as well as get the chance for autographs and tips from their idols.
There was plenty of friendly banter between both teams before the rivalry intensifies in the City-Country game on Sunday and the country coach was impressed with the morning.
“It seems to get bigger each year which is terrific and the NRL and CRL do a great job organising it and it is great to see so many kids here,” Barrett said.
“I was appreciative that Freddie (Fittler) has brought his side here as well as all our guys here.
“They all grew up in similar areas so they enjoy it as well.”
With more than Country pride on line Barrett is looking to get as many players from his team into State of Origin.
The five-eighth position is just one up for grabs, but the former Temora boy knows the second row is another position NSW coach Lauire Daley is yet to settle on.
“It’s good to see some familiar faces, but we just have to keep reminding ourselves we are here to do a job and gets some guys in the State Of Origin side,” Barrett said.
“I’m lucky enough to pick a really good team, we’ve got a big side and a tough side.
“City always put a good team on the park as well but we just have to worry about ourselves.”
Aftering coming together on Monday, the team took in a winery visit in Griffith on Tuesday before setting up camp in Wagga.
Getting a first look at Equex Centre with an opposed session with Temora on Thursday, Barrett has been happy with the start of the week and believes a strong preparation could be the difference between the two evenly-matched teams.
“We haven’t been beaten for a couple of years, we had a draw last year and one the year before and we have a good side we just have to make sure we prepare really well,” Barrett said.
“There isn’t a hell of a lot we can preview with there side, it is a fair bit different to the side we played last year, but they have some players who want to get picked in Origin will have a fair bit to play for.”
With the likes of Andrew Fifita and David Klemmer in the City team, Barrett has selected a team he thinks can more than match his rivals.
Storm prop Dale Finucane and Knights enforcer Kade Snowden will had the first job to maintain City’s forwards with Paul Vaughan, Tariq Sims and Ryan James to come off the bench.
Barrett believes the men on the interchange will have a big impact on the game.
“We have a really big bench, which is good and a really good mix of older and younger blokes with three debutants there, possibly four if Shannon Boyd plays, at it is exciting for them,” he said.
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