The old Ben Barba is back and ready to wreak havoc again on NRL defences according to his Canterbury teammates.
He was named on Tuesday to make his return from club suspension in Friday’s clash with South Sydney for the first time since being stood down indefinitely over gambling and alcohol issues on February 25.
Barba has spent a week training with teammates after two weeks’ rehabilitation in a private Sydney clinic and playmaker Josh Reynolds said the superstar fullback was ready again to produced his scintillating best.
“He has come back really focused – his mind is on the job,” Reynolds said on Tuesday.
“He really wants to go out there and show everyone that he can do the things that he did last year and, hopefully, he will go out there and do that for him and for us.
“I think he is ready. Talking to him, he is in a good state and he has come back with a real positive attitude to training and that has been good for the playing group because everyone was hoping he would be okay.”
“He played that All Stars game and absolutely blitzed it and he will come back for us and just do his thing.”
Barba has missed the opening three games of the Bulldogs 2013 campaign but captain Michael Ennis said he expected the reigning Dally M medallist to hit the ground running.
“Ben is in great shape,” Ennis said.
“He had a wonderful pre-season which was obviously disrupted for a period of time in February.
“But he is back at training now and he is working really hard to get into shape and the key is he feels good about himself now. His head is where it needs to be so so he can take the field at 100 per cent.
“Certainly around training, he is himself again, he has that real humbleness and just gets the job done.
“Ben obviously copped plenty of media last year with the stellar run he had and he will be used to that (expectation).
“I’m sure he will handle the situation.”