Interview with Matt Barradeen

The Luxury Paints Ipswich Jets’ Matthew Barradeen has been strapping ankles and offering support with unwavering loyalty and professionalism to players at the Ipswich Jets for 12 seasons, as the 2014 season starts Matthew sat down and shared some of his thoughts on his role as a trainer, the Luxury Paint Ipswich Jets and Rugby League in 2014.

How long have you been working at the Jets?

This is my 12th year at the Jets.  I started in 2003 when Trevor ‘the Axe’ Gillmeister was coach.   I worked with the Colts and Reserve grade; under the tutelage of a man I learnt nearly everything off, John Newton.   In 2006 when John went to Burleigh (semi-retirement) I was asked to step in as head trainer by Kevin Walters.

Over that time you’ve seen a lot of Jets go on and play NRL, do you take pride in seeing players come from the Jets to NRL?

I think it should be every club’s goal to see players move on from them to a higher level.  I get quite frustrated that the goal with some clubs is to win a trophy despite their player’s ambitions to move up to the next level, you see it from time to time.

You’ve had the best view to watch Jets’ players- which player has seen you stand out on the field forgetting about your job and just saying wow?

An obvious choice would be Danny Coburn, Cobes and I were good mates, yet he still left me in awe.  The Allwood twins were another couple who were hard men that I enjoyed watching play.  But lately a quite young man by the name of Troy O’ Sullivan is someone who is tough but has turn of foot as well, great to watch.

How has the role of the trainer changed since you first started?

I don’t think it has changed a lot.  A successful trainer is one that gets in and forsakes their own comforts to make sure players only job is to focus on football.  Relationships with players plays a big part too, players will quite often come to you for advice that they wouldn’t ask other staff members, you’ve just got to be straight up with them.

Do you learn a lot from working with other trainers?

Any trainer who doesn’t realize that they don’t know everything is a fool.  I try to make sure that I listen to anybody’s view on how things should be done, then you use what you think will work.  I also think it is important to keep educating yourself every day.  Part of the reason why I started doing my Masters in strength and conditioning is to grow my own knowledge base.

Is Springer at the Broncos still the benchmark?

Without a doubt, a lot of emphasis these days is placed on what bit of paper you have earned, but you just can’t top life experience.  He has a reputation for being a bit cantankerous, but when I worked with him he was willing to help me learn and we became good mates.

What future changes do you see for the role?

The age of the jack-of-all-trades Strapper is sadly, coming to end I think; at least at an NRL level.  The role is becoming more consultancies based, for specialists.  There will always be a need though at local and State-League level because League still relies on the tireless work of people who just straight out love the game and their club.

How much does the 2008 Grand Final still hurt?

That question in itself is a bit of a low blow, I have choked up a couple of times trying to convey how much that one hurt.  Growing up in Ipswich and being so invested in the Jets, to come that close and know that it was ours to lose, hurts.  We did the damage to ourselves early in the game and it was an awesome effort to claw back (I even think that given another 10 minutes it would have been a different story), but I still remember walking into the shed with Cobes in tears and Lacey with a 1000 yard stare.  People forget that those games mean just as much to the guys who aren’t out there taking tackles or hit ups.

What do you see for the Jets in 2014 and beyond?

One great thing is that every year is a clean start and we’ve had a pretty good start.  I haven’t been involved as much this year because I am looking after my expanding family, but I have always been impressed with the ingenuity and ‘out-of-the-box’ style of coaching the Walkers bring, so anything is possible.  Over the last couple of years we have cemented ourselves as a team that opponents don’t take for granted and are regulars in the finals series, so this year will be no different.

You’re working with the Colts this year- do you think you’ll enjoy working with the younger players?

It is good.  I have taken a bit of a step back this year because we now have 3 kids under 4 and I want to help out at home. My wife has been very supportive for the 16 years I have been strapping, and this was the least I could do.  It’s great to see young fellas who are jumping out of their skin to play on the week end.  I’ll be honest it can be frustrating because you can see the young guys just want to score off  every set, but it’s funny some of the ‘veteran’ Colts you can see are that bit more patient.

Which player in the Colts has got your attention?

Dan Nolan is a young guy I can see going a long way, he’s quick and strong defensively.  Mitchell Tuite is also someone I think is of great value to the Colts, he is one of the ‘veterans’ of the team and you can just tell that he has a lot of leadership in him.

Favorite Jets’ player over your time at the club?

Bit cliché here, but it’s true, Danny Coburn.

What coach NRL or ISC would you love to work with?

I would love to work with Michael Hagan again if he ever coached.  He’s got great perspective on coaching, and a great people manager.  He realized that every role in the club, from the lowest to the highest, has great importance and impact on how the club runs.  He’s got a million stories too, from when League was full of characters.

You’re a big Dragons’ man- how’s 2014 going to play out? Price is under pressure.

It’s funny I started following them because my older brother Gerard was following them when I was a young fella, and it has sort of stuck.  I think most coaches are under pressure, Pricey more than most, but I do like how the Dragons have stuck with him instead of the going trend of cutting them loose within 10 rounds.  Unfortunately the Dragons probably do need a change.