Ben Barba in “no rush” to return home if he enjoys time with St Helens

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As he prepares to make his long-awaited debut for the club this weekend, Ben Barba has admitted he would be in no rush to return to Australia should he enjoy his time with St Helens.

Barba will make his first appearance in Super League against Wigan on Friday night, following the completion of a 12-match suspension upheld by the competition following a drugs offence while playing for Cronulla last year.

He has initially signed until the end of the 2019 season, but says he would be open to a longer stay if things work out.

“I’m 28 now and I’ll finish my contract here when I’m 30 – but I’ve said to the guys here that if I’m enjoying myself, there will definitely be no rush to get back,” he said.

“I just want to get hopefully six games out of the way then two full seasons in after that and hopefully win some trophies for St Helens.”

Barba has not played a game of Rugby League for ten months, when he helped Cronulla win the 2016 Grand Final in Australia.

After that he had a short spell in rugby union with French club Toulon, but after being allowed to train with the Saints first-team throughout his suspension, he insists he will be ready for the rigours of a derby against Wigan this Friday.

“It’s been good that I’ve been allowed to train with the team and learn how some of these boys play,” he said.

“After going to union I’ve lost some fitness, so the last few weeks have been tough! The senior guys here have made sure I’m as ready as I can be, though.

“The first time I came to Magic Weekend to meet Mike Rush and Justin was when Wigan was mentioned! I know what it’s all about and some of the boys who are part of it told me. I’ve done my homework, watching YouTube clips of past games and seeing how fiery they are.”

Speculation lingered for weeks about Barba’s next destination following the end of his ill-fated spell with Toulon, and he revealed he considered a move to Warrington before settling on St Helens.

He said: “I had meetings with a few teams but when I met St Helens, it made me feel all warm inside and it felt right. “Obviously Warrington were another big one and it was going to come down to Warrington and St Helens, but, as I say, it just felt right to come here to this club.”