To date, Ben Barba has had a very, very interesting career. In 2012 he was arguably the best player in the world when he claimed the Dally M Award and led his then team in Canterbury all the way to the Grand Final. While he has also proudly shown of his heritage representing the Indigenous All-Stars five times, to go along with four tries. However, on the flip side it also hasn't been so pretty at times for the man who has just under 100 NRL tries to his name. He was sacked from Cronulla for cocaine use, let go by Toulon in French Rugby while his lone season with the Broncos which saw him play a big 25 games, however for only eight four-pointers.
Now to get up to speed. In 28 games for St Helens in the ESL he has scored an outstanding 29 four-pointers. However, he was recently granted a release from the final year of his contracting and is wanting a return to the League where he made his name known, for better or for worse. Throughout his career, he has played in a total of 168 National Rugby League games for all of Canterbury, Brisbane and Cronulla. Where will he end up? Could he solve Canterbury's attacking crisis? Help save Wayne Bennett's Broncos career? Or maybe help lead Cronulla in their pursuit of a second Premiership? Let's find out, shall we?
Back to where it all began?
In 2008 during the Toyota Cup season, Barba absolutely lit up the opposition scoring 26 tries from 27 appearances. Fast forward to 2012 and he was slowly but surely making a name for himself and was a young and talented prospect. Then that was the season where Canterbury went down 14-4 to the Storm in the Grand Final. However, that didn't deter Barba as he was an absolute beast for the Bulldogs that season winning the Dally M Award and being a major factor in them advancing so far to begin with. Then his final campaign with Canterbury saw him reach double-digit tries in only 17 appearances for the club.
Why would he go back to Canterbury you ask and why would the club want him? Good question. The Bulldogs were the club where he played his career-best form and helped mould him into the incredible player he is today. While Canterbury this season have averaged around 16 points per game, good for second worst in the League, behind only the Tigers. If Barba were to return to his boyhood club then he would go a long way to helping to fix their very obvious attacking woes. While he would also prove to be a massive factor in dragging the Bulldogs out of the doldrums and into finals contention once again (they currently reside in 14th place on the ladder).
The Sutherland Shire, again?
While with the Sharkies Barba scored 19 four-pointers through 46 appearances for them and during his two-season stay was a major attacking force for Cronulla. Barba achieved a relative amount of success for Cronulla. While the fact that Shane Flanagan has said so many different things to the media about Barba's potential return to the club could just be their way of hiding a potential Barba return. He won a Premiership with the club (their first ever) and a backline featuring himself, Dugan and Holmes, among others, would be absolutely lethal.
Cronulla make this move because Barba is the equivalent of a tried and tested product. Flanagan and Co know he works well with the club that despite his drugs related departure. While Barba would do this move because of what he achieved in his short stint at the club. Not only this but being able to play with a halves pairing of Matt Moylan (14 try assists this season) and Chad Townsend (six try assists this season), could only do wonders for his game playing off the back of that.
Working under Craig Bellamy?
While this is a bit of a left-field option it's also an absolutely stellar one. Gone is Billy Slater due to retirement at the end of this campaign. What Billy leaves in the form of his speed and try-scoring abilities, Barba would absolutely bring to the Melbourne fullback position. Slater has crossed the white line five times this season, Barba's done it 29 times already during the English season.
While if the allure of replacing one of the games greatest ever fullbacks wasn't enough of an incentive to come to the reigning Premiership winners then working under Craig Bellamy should be. He has a reputation of improving players and turning your average-joe into a superstar. Barba under Bellamy would 110% reignite his NRL career and see him no doubt turn into a crazy superstar player again if he isn't already that. While what he could also achieve under the guidance and leadership of current Melbourne captain Cameron Smith would be quite crazy as well.
This would a match made in heaven for both sides and if Barba agreed to it, it could take not only his game, but Melbourne's game as a whole to another level entirely. And that is quite a scary prospect to behold!!!
Barba does and will, of course, have many options when he does return to the NRL. But these three options are not only the best for him but the likeliest/ and or suitable. Despite the fact that he hasn't played National Rugby League for over a season he is still a monster on the field and can most definitely still score a try or two. Whatever club he does go to, provided he can stay controversy free and keep his off-field life in check, he will be an absolute asset to, 100% guaranteed. It's up to Barba wherever he decides to go to, but he'll do well, just like every other stop in his NRL career.
Where do you think Ben Barba will be playing his football next season? Let us know in the comments below.