Barrett returning to coaching at Panthers as Cleary's assistant

Trent Barrett is back in the coaching ranks, agreeing to a deal to return to the Penrith Panthers as one of Ivan Cleary’s assistants from 2020.

Barrett, who previously worked as Cleary’s assistant before taking on the Manly job for three seasons, fell out with the Panthers coach and was sent on gardening leave in his final days at the club in 2015.

The bitter fallout, which took place after Barrett was guaranteed the Manly job for the following year, revolved around the poaching of players.

At the time, Cleary demanded Barrett not return to training despite having a few months remaining on his contract as his assistant.

However it seems all has been forgiven between the pair despite the public fallout, with Cleary the one suggesting the club brings back the former St George Illawarra captain to help out. Penrith have made no official announcement about Barrett.

The pair will resume their working relationship in the off-season.

It is understood Barrett will join Cameron Ciraldo as one of his assistants, working with the club’s young halves and backs to improve their attack.

The decision to employ Barrett takes on greater significance given the fact they will lose plenty of experience and knowledge in the halves when James Maloney departs the club at the end of the season to join Catalans Dragons in the Super League.

During his previous role at the club, Barrett was the head of the club’s halves academy, helping produce the likes of Nathan Cleary, Tyrone May and Jarome Luai.

Penrith’s attack has been heavily criticised in Ivan Cleary’s first season back at the club and have the worst attack of all teams in the top eight.

In fact, they have the fourth worst attacking record in the competition, despite having the NSW State of Origin halves at their disposal.

The news of Barrett’s return to Penrith comes just a few weeks after his contract with the Sea Eagles expired, paid out for the last nine months of his contract despite resigning from his post on Manly at the end of last season.