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Former Australian and NSW five-eighth Trent Barrett retired at the end of the 2010 season after playing 292 first grade games for the Steelers, Dragons Sharks and Wigan Warriors in a stellar career spanning 15 years. 

Now working as an Ambassador for the NRL’s One Community program and Country Rugby League, Trent joins the team as a weekly columnist throughout season 2011 to give fans a player’s perspective on what’s happening in the game, on and off the field.

In his first column, Trent gives an insight into how players feel going into round 1 … and how he feels about being a spectator for the first time since 1995.

Seems like yesterday we were witnessing Ben Hornby and his Dragons lift the trophy on Grand Final day … and yet here we are on the eve of another very exciting NRL season.

The players have been slogging it out for four months now in preparation for this weekend - lifting weights, running kilometre after kilometre, and doing skill work for hours on end, all to prepare for the 2011 season. All of that with one game in the back of their minds: round 1!

All coaches and players want to win their first game. The pressure eases a touch and the players gain confidence and feel rewarded for all the work they have put in over the pre-season.

It’s a tipsters nightmare these first few rounds … the unknown players coming into grade; the slippery humid conditions; and combinations not quite where they normally are compared with the middle of the year. Upsets will occur, injuries will unfortunately come and the whole drama of the NRL will unfold with a bang.

The players will be excited. There will be a touch of nervousness and they will all have huge expectations of what they hope to achieve this year. There is a little bit of the unknown about the first game, with new squads and indifferent trial form. The key is having faith that all the work you have done has been spot on and will have you and your team in the best possible mindset to win this first game.

For the past 15 years I have been in the middle of all this. Now, entering my first year of retirement, I can sit back and enjoy watching the games with a completely different mindset.

No more nerves, no pre-game rituals, no more seven-hour training days, no more aches and pains … but I will miss it.

The big games and big crowds give you a huge thrill and no doubt there will be times when I would love to be out there on the field, but I am more than happy to be in this chair writing this column and anticipating what’s coming on the weekend.

Best of luck to all the supporters of our teams and enjoy what will be a great season.

My tips for round 1: Broncos, Roosters, Panthers, Raiders, Storm, Titans, Warriors, Bulldogs.

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