Storm strike gold with Ipswich link
HE'S already missed one grand final moment and Matt Barradeen is determined not to let that happen again.
After 12 years as a trainer with the Ipswich Jets, Barradeen was given the opportunity of a lifetime to join the Melbourne Storm in 2016.
With the minor premiers preparing to take on the Cronulla Sharks in Sunday's NRL grand final, the club's Training and Logistics manager has a chance to make up for lost time.
"It's funny because the 2008 grand final loss for the Jets still burns for me,” Barradeen laughed. "I'd been at the Jets for 12 years and decided to take some time off with my wife last year. That's when Ipswich won their grand final and I was dirty at myself for not being there.”
With 18 years experience in the business, Barradeen has worked with some of Australia's top rugby league talent.
Having been associated with the NRL All Stars team, Junior Kangaroos, Queensland Origin team, Prime Ministers XIII, he jumped at the chance to move his family down to Melbourne.
"My wife Anna has always been very supportive and she knew this was my dream,” he said. "The move did put some pressure on the family but it didn't take much for them to get to know the club and players.
"It's only been a year but we've formed some great relationships down here. To be involved with the Storm, and hopefully to be on the ground celebrating with them on Sunday, I can't even fathom how that would feel.”
Despite gathering an impressive resume over the past two decades, Barradeen said the connections made while in Ipswich had paved the way for his "dream job''.
"I was lucky enough to do some great representative gigs like State of Origin while I was still at the Jets,” he said. "I was able to make connections at this level early on and when I got the call it was almost surreal.
"I was pretty humbled because there were people in those rep teams who gave me a glowing report.”
Likening his new club's family-first approach to that of the Ipswich Jets, Barradeen said it was the Melbourne Storm forwards who had made a big impression both on and off the field.
"Cam Smith is a cliche answer but he's a massive family man,” he said. "You can see they are his main priority and we have kids who are around the same age so it's been good watching them make friends.
"Dale Finucane is just iron grit and has impressed me all year. Big Tim Glasby from Queensland is the same. I didn't know too much about him before but he's a great bloke to be around.”
Calling himself "a small cog in the Melbourne machine'', Barradeen said the Storm's charge through the NRL finals had kept his role normal. Despite the increased supply of strapping tape, it was just about making the little things were done right.
"At it's core all those little jobs are still the same,” he said. "There is a bit more expectation but it's very much been business as usual.
"It's just about making sure you are dotting the I's and crossing your T's that you normally do.”
As Melbourne prepare for Sunday's grand final clash with Cronulla, Barradeen reflected on three men who had helped get him to the top role of head trainer.
"When I first started it was Tudor Young who was the original trainer at Brothers,” he said. "Between him, Johnny Newton at the Jets and Tony Spencer in the Maroons Origin camp they taught me everything.
"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for those three guys”.