Manly Warringah Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett says he cannot wait to take his full squad to Christchurch, after getting a first glimpse of the city today to check out the facilities for Manly’s match against the Vodafone Warriors on June 9.
The former Kangeroos and State of Origin star had a fully packed schedule, which included a tour of AMI Stadium, a coaching clinic with local club coaches, lunch with city officials and a whirlwind tour of the local sights.
At Barrett’s special request, the Manly coach also had a brief meeting with Crusaders coach Scott Robertson at the headquarters of the Super 15 champions.
Barrett said he was pleasantly surprised by the facilities at AMI Stadium, considering that the venue was only a temporary stadium since the 2011 earthquakes.
“The players and our travelling fans will get everything they need, and with the proximity to the pitch there is not a bad seat in the house. It is not hard to imagine that this stadium will be pumping when it is full on June 9,” said Barrett.
Over 3000 tickets have already been sold, and match organiser Justin Wallace thinks that the Manly match may even sell out faster than the Warriors match against Penrith in 2016.
Barrett was hosted by local league legend, and former Kiwis coach Frank Endacott for a tour of the city, and said the travelling Manly fans and the playing squad would enjoy their visits to Christchurch. During the tour, Barrett recorded a few video messages to show Manly’s Australian fan base how the city had recovered after the earthquake.
“You can see that Christchurch is becoming a really attractive place to visit and it will be wonderful to come back each year and see the progress first-hand,” said the coach of Manly who have committed to playing matches in Christchurch in 2018 and 2019 with an option for a third match in 2020.
“We are committed to building a long-term relationship with the Canterbury region, and judging by the heartwarming reception and first impressions, I think we will feel right at home in Christchurch,” says Barrett.
As part of that commitment, Barrett shared some of his experience with local rugby league coaches during a coaching workshop.
“We want to build a relationship with the local rugby league community, help to develop the local game, and in the long run, of course, we hope to create a pathway for talented Canterbury players into the NRL via Brookvale.”
Barrett caught a late flight back to Sydney to continue the preparation for Manly’s opening match of the season on March 9 against the Newcastle Knights.
Manly finished sixth in the 2017 Premiership and the coach was confident he has a squad capable of making the top 8, and not too concerned about losing their two trial matches.
“In the last match against the Roosters, many of our key players had their first hit-out of the year, and they will be lot better for it when we meet the Knights,” said Barrett.
By the time Manly will host the Warriors in Christchurch on June 9, Barrett expects his team to be well-settled in the play-off spots. “And with a bit of luck, the Warriors will also be right up there by then, the Christchurch fans will get a cracker of a match.”
Manly Sea Eagles v New Zealand Warriors, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, Saturday June 9, 5pm kick-off.
For more information or interviews, please contact Justin Wallace on 027 251 5210