Reports: Ben Barba seeking return to NRL

By Steve Zemek, Steve Zemek is a Roar Guru

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    Ben Barba is on the verge of returning to the NRL next year after reportedly seeking a release from his English Super League contract.

    The former Cronulla premiership winner has met with St Helens management and requested permission to be released from the final year of his deal and return to Australia, according News Corp.

    The Sharks will be in the box seat to sign the former Dally M winner, despite having a wealth of fullback options in Valentine Holmes and Josh Dugan.

    Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has consistently said they would welcome back Barba, despite the fullback being sacked from the club in 2016 after testing positive to cocaine.

    “He’s a premiership-winning player for this club and if he wants to come back to Australia, we’ll look at it,” Flanagan said in May.

    “We’ve lost Ricky Leutele, he’s off to the Toronto Wolfpack next year and Jesse (Ramien) is off to Newcastle.

    “(Josh Dugan) is quite happy to play in the centres, at the moment he’s playing fullback.

    “We’ll weigh up all of those things in due time. We’ve got to concentrate on the present at the moment.”

    Barba’s return to the Sharks could prompt Holmes, who is off-contract at the end of 2019, to exit the club.

    The Townsville-born Queensland and Australian representative is weighing up an offer from North Queensland as well as a contract extension from the Sharks.

    Should Barba return to Cronulla, Holmes could elect to move to the Cowboys in order to play in his favoured position of fullback.

    Barba was forced out of the NRL after recording his second positive illicit drugs strike after the Sharks’ grand final celebrations.

    He had an ill-fated stint in French rugby union before reigniting his career with St Helens.

    He has returned to his best form in England, scoring 28 tries in 27 games, and is the favourite to win the Man of Steel award.

    And it’s believed that the NRL would not stand in Barba’s way of returning to the game, having served a 12-game ban for his drugs strike.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • August 11th 2018 @ 11:50am
      Beergardener said | August 11th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

      Can’t see why the Sharks would want him – their spine seems sorted. Can’t see who else would want him either:
      Broncos are in the market for a halfback and potentially a fullback and are desperate for a playmaker – hopefully that rules out Barba given his performances for us before
      Titans could be in the market for a half but have already ruled out signing one bad boy by the name of Corey Norman so that rules them out.
      So that pretty much leaves …. Parramatta….

    • August 11th 2018 @ 3:32pm
      Paul said | August 11th 2018 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

      The Sharkies need to answer a simple question: is it better to MAKE Barba happy by bringing him back and playing him at the only place he can play (fullback), or KEEP Valentine Holmes happy by leaving him in the position where he’s been an absolute star this year?

    • Roar Guru

      August 11th 2018 @ 3:35pm
      Dutski said | August 11th 2018 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

      He’s a quality player who has served his suspension. Would be a good pickup for a bargain price. Put him on a base level contract and not put too many expectations on him, he will be worth the gamble.

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