Myles and Taupau are great signings, but Manly's most important recruit could be Trent Barrett. By Shayne Bugden (RLW January 14, 2016) There are more questions surrounding the 2016 Sea Eagles' season than there are idiots in federal parliament. How will their first-time coach go? Will all their high-profile signings fire? Are last year's dramas fully behind them? And who'll slot in at pivot to cover the huge loss of Kieran Foran? RLW has a scoop for you on that last one: It definitely won't be Trent Barrett. Asked if sorting the club's situation at five-eighth is a special interest of his given his incredible career in the no. 6 jumper, he laughs, "I'm too old to play." "But yeah, it is a special interest. We're lucky to have a dominant half in Daly (Cherry-Evans), plus Brett Stewart at fullback, and a hooker in Matt Parcell who can really control the ruck. All of that does enable me to use a running player at five-eighth." According to Barrett, whoever gets the nod won't have to worry about much other than playing what he sees in front of him. He's keen for Cherry-Evans to steer the team around the park and take the pressure off his halves partner. "Daly's at a stage in his career where he can take his game to another level," Barrett reckons. "He does things on the field that other people can't do. We're lucky to have him, and I do want him to take control." That's not the only bit of good fortune the first-time mentor has going for him at Manly, though. Dealing with the huge workload of a head coach is the first challenge he mentions about his new job, but he's got great back-up to help with that. "It doesn't stop, that's for sure", he says. "The biggest difference is all the peripheral stuff you have to deal with. When you're the assistant it's pure football, and as the head coach you don't do as much hands on stuff. But I've got two very good assistants in John Cartwright and. Anthony Seibold." Barrett's also got one hell of a playing list to work with, courtesy of some very strong recruiting that's added a bunch of guns to an already world-class crew of old hands. "The club's veterans - Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, Jamie Lyon - have been standouts," he says of his first impressions after seven weeks with the side. "Then we've brought in Lewis Brown and Nate Myles. They're all good leaders and terrific trainers and they've been invaluable to me ...... They're all very honest with their feedback." Barrett is guarded about his expectations for the team. He won't say where he'd be happy for them to finish on the ladder, and he wasn't giving anything away on who's leading the race to be five-eighth, except to say he has "a few ideas on that" and he definitely won't be making a decision until he picks the team for the round one clash with Canterbury. However, he's quick to point out one area he wants the Sea Eagles to turn the corner in. "Defensively we can improve a fair bit on last year," he maintains. "There are a few things from my point of view that we can fix ..... We know what we want to achieve, and we're lucky to have a good squad with plenty of ability. But that by itself doesn't guarantee you wins. We've got to be disciplined." Next season will be the first since 2004 that Manly's been coached by someone who wasn't a legendary player for them. The "insular peninsula" tag fits the team like a glove, so it's only natural to wonder if Barrett's concerned about being an outsider. "I can't control that, so I haven't thought about it, to be honest," he says. "There's pressure with every first grade job, and it's a high profile club. If I starting thinking about things I can't control , I'll lose focus." Pressed on whether all the changes at Brookvale will actually make it easier for him to mould the club into his own image, the former NSW and Kangaroo star admits, "Yeah, but I wouldn't have changed what I want to do regardless of how many players were here from before. "I've got a pretty clear idea on what I and I have clear ideas about the culture and style of footy we'll play. I'm lucky that we've recruited very well." Come the end of 2016, Sea Eagles fans will be hoping they feel lucky to have Barrett sitting in the coaches box.