Ben Barba on St Helens stay, why he left the Super League club, life regrets and his current situation away from rugby league

WITH the world at his feet, Ben Barba was once rugby league’s greatest player.

Only the second person – after Hull KR’s Gavin Miller – to win both the Dally M Medal in the NRL and the Steve Prescott Man of Steel in Super League, Barba was a wizard on the field.

With the ability to beat a man with ease and make defenders look ordinary, Barba has also had a chequered past, with off-field incidents hampering his career along the way.

That is perhaps most true in 2019 when Barba was released by the North Queensland Cowboys without playing a game following an alleged assault before he was cleared to return to community rugby league in late 2020.

Having said, Barba has few regrets as he returns to his hometown of Mackay.

“Career wise, I think I achieved every I dreamed of. I would have loved to play for my country and state but it just wasn’t to be,” Barba told League Express.

“My career highlight would definitely have to be the 2016 Grand Final with Cronulla Sharks – everyone wrote us off but we proved people wrong and that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“I’ve got a few regrets, but I don’t let them affect me to much. I’ve got to live with my actions and keep living life.

“I’m now back living in my hometown of Mackay and have signed to play for the Sarina Crocodiles here in the Mackay District Competition.

“Life these days consists of just living a good life, working and raising my four daughters. It’s a life I enjoy.”

Barba’s class shone through in the 168 games he played in the NRL for Cronulla, Brisbane Broncos and Canterbury Bulldogs, but it was his year-and-a-half stint in the UK that enamoured the maverick to one set of Super League supporters in particular.

In May 2017, Barba was released from his lucrative contract with rugby union side Toulon, sparking a flurry of interest that eventually ended up with St Helens swooping for the superstar.

After serving a ban, Barba almost helped Saints reach the Grand Final that year before doing exactly the same the year after as the Merseyside club went down to Warrington in the semi-finals.

That prompted the livewire playmaker to join the Cowboys, but Barba has revealed that he wished he had stayed at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

“I loved every minute of my time in England and especially playing for St Helens,” Barba continued.

“I wish I did stay but homesickness got the best of me. The whole club was so good to me and I will remember my time there forever.”

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