Season Review: Mitch Barnett

Mitch Barnett’s fast-paced development continued in 2015 and was punctuated by the damaging back-rower fulfilling his lifelong ambition of making his NRL debut.

Barnett graduated from the National Youth Competition at the conclusion of the 2014 season and headed into pre-season with the NRL squad with confidence after taking out the NYC Player’s Player Award at the Meninga Medal.

Knowing that he was down in the pecking order of Canberra’s back-rowers, Barnett worked extremely hard during the pre-season and soaked up all of the knowledge and expertise on offer from the likes of Sia Soliola, Shaun Fensom, Josh Papalii and the coaching staff.

The result was Barnett entering the start of the 2015 season in the best shape of his life and the 21 year old quickly found a place in Mounties’ starting back-row.

Barnett hit the ground running and was instrumental in guiding Mounties to the top of the VB NSW Cup ladder with the side starting the year with seven wins in a row.

Although he played prop in his last season of under 20’s, Barnett proved to be outstanding on the edge for Mounties playing in the second row.

Barnett possesses good pace, fitness and underrated footwork and his tremendous line-running ability caused plenty of damage on the left edge for Mounties with ball in hand. The Wingham Tigers junior’s courage, work-rate and toughness in defence more than matched his performances in attack also.

Barnett’s fantastic form for Mounties caught the attention of Ricky Stuart and the Raiders Coach re-signed the exciting youngster until the end of the 2017 season.

 “The clubs been good to me and that’s one of the big reasons I decided to stay,” Barnett said at the time. “They showed faith in me so I thought I’d show some back in them by re-signing and hopefully I can keep playing good footy and take the next step in my career.

“It’s a great bunch of blokes in our NRL squad. We’re working really hard together and we’re building a good culture which I want to be a part of and that’s why I chose to stay. I’m just looking to keep contributing to the Mounties each week and if a debut comes that’s great but I’m certainly not expecting to have it handed to me I know I have to keep working hard.” 

Shortly after, Barnett was selected in the starting second row in the VB NSW Cup representative team for the annual clash against the Queensland Residents.

Barnett then returned to Mounties with a fresh injection of confidence and continued his outstanding form in the VB NSW Cup which put him into NRL selection calculations once injuries struck.

As a result of his consistently top class displays for Mounties, Stuart handed Barnett his debut in Round 22 against the Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium.

Barnett started the match and performed admirably for the Green Machine and kept his place in the line-up for the following game against the Manly Sea Eagles.

Unfortunately, Canberra lost both encounters and Stuart elected to recall Luke Bateman in place of Barnett.

Nonetheless, Barnett was all the better for the experience and went on to lead Mounties to the Minor Premiership and ultimately claim the NSW Cup Player of the Year Award at the Brad Fittler Medal.

The award capped off a highly productive 2015 season for the promising youngster and paves the way for a bigger and better 2016 campaign.

Most Memorable Moment:

Whilst taking out the Player of the Year Award for an entire state based competition is certainly a highlight for Barnett in 2015, we can’t go past labelling his most memorable moment from this year as his NRL debut, given that it is an occasion that he has dreamt of for quite some time.

Despite being named on the interchange bench, Barnett in fact started the match and his performance proved that he most definitely belongs at that level.

Barnett ran for 125 metres and registered three tackle breaks, one offload and 23 hard-hitting tackles against the Tigers.

Statistics:

Matches

Runs

Metres

Tackles

Tries

Try Assists

Tackle Breaks

Offloads

Line Breaks

2

16

163

40

5

1