Despite missing out on the Country coaching job Peter Barrett is still happy.
Despite missing out on the Country coaching job Peter Barrett is still happy. Bruce Thomas

Barrett misses out on position

WITHOUT even the courtesy of a phone call to tell him he was out of the running, Oxley Pioneers coach Peter Barrett has been overlooked for the Country Rugby League under-18 coaching position even his closest rivals believed was his due.

Barrett was in Brisbane on Sunday for the AC/DC concert and missed seeing the announcement in a weekend Sydney newspaper that Newcastle Rebels coach Paul Skovgard had been parachuted into the position ahead of himself and the other main contender, Central Hunter Power coach Chris Brennan.

“Last year I received a personal call from CRL president Jock Colley asking if I could help out as assistant coach to Gary Gardner,” Barrett revealed.

“The plan was to watch and learn, so that there was a smooth transition into the job after Gary’s term ended.

“Actually at that time I was sent a formal email advising of the decision but didn’t even get one of those this time to tell me I was no longer needed.

“On Tuesday I got back to work and had people calling to say it had been in the paper.

“So I’m amazed I had to find out about it second-hand when apparently the decision was made last Friday and they’ve always known how to find me before when they wanted something.

“No phone call, no email, no contact of any kind ... nothing.”

Barrett maintains an informed source told him only two weeks ago that he and Brennan were the only two candidates for the job and at no time in his association with CRL had Skovgard ever been mentioned as a possible applicant.

The friendly rivals had taken their respective sides to last year’s CRL championships, eventually won by Brennan’s team Central Hunter Power, after Barrett had won both previous titles with Oxley Pioneers and North Coast Division.

Skovgard’s team had been eliminated by the Power from the finals race after a hotly-disputed 36-26 loss in Tamworth on Anzac Day last year, which makes the decision to overlook the two coaches with proven credentials and the best recent success records even more surprising.

“Paul is a good bloke and it’s not his fault he got the job, there are no hard feelings against him,” Barrett added.

“However, Chris and I have a right to feel let down after being told if we work hard, we’ll be rewarded.

“What incentive is there for the next coach following to aim for results when it’s just gone back to the bad old days of playing politics?”

Oxley regional manager Scott Bone said applications had closed on December 31 and the submission from Skovgard had caught everyone by surprise and may have been overlooked while discussions centred on Barrett and Brennan.

Bone chuckled when asked if the colourfully-named ‘Men In Black’, the powerful voting bloc representing Newcastle Rugby League, had used influence to get their favoured candidate across the line.

“As I’m not a member of the management committee and don’t know how the voting went, that’s something I can’t answer,” he replied.

Quick to shrug off his disappointment, Barrett maintains the snub will only motivate his desire to win the next CRL championship with the Pioneers.

“In light of what’s happened, imagine the embarrassment if we win the title and somebody has to hand us the trophy,” he laughed.

“Now I’m even more determined for our boys to be successful and can’t wait for the trials to start so we can get the show on the road.”

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