Rumours are emerging from Australia that the 2018 Man of Steel favourite Ben Barba could be returning home at the end of the season, reports which have only intensified following the strong links with Fijian international Kevin Naiqama.
Australian journalist Brent Read had this to say on the matter: “There’s lots of rumours around right now about Ben Barba — about whether he’s coming home. If Naiqama goes to St Helens there could be implications there for Barba – maybe that is as a replacement.”
Of course, there was no doubting the 28 year old’s ability back in Australia; Barba is a former Dally M Winner and won the 2016 NRL Grand Final with Cronulla – one of the teams being linked with him – and only a failed drugs test resulted in him leaving the competition. After a short spell in French Rugby Union with Toulon, he signed for Justin Holbrook’s Saints in May 2017.
While he initially had to serve his NRL drug ban with the ‘Red Vee’, he eventually made his debut against Wigan Warriors in a September Super 8s clash. He didn’t, however, show his true ability until 2018 and has already scored fifteen tries this season, including a hat trick in their recent Challenge Cup victory over Castleford.
His deal currently expires at the end of 2019 and St Helens fans are understandably concerned by the rumours suggesting he may leave at the end of 2018. Consolation may be drawn from the fact they should be able to command a fee for the Darwin-born full back while the possible recruitment of Naiqama, the Fijian RLWC captain, from Wests Tigers.