Ben Barba could be returning to the NRL next season after finalising a release from his contract with St Helens.
Barba has been lighting up the English Super League this year with stunning 100 meter tries, reminiscing his Dally M performance in the NRL in 2012. He currently has 28 tries this season and is favorite to win the Man of Steel award this year. His amazing form has lead the 29 year old fullback to look towards an NRL return in 2019.
Barba debuted in the NRL with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 2008. He would go on to make a grand final and win the Dally M medal in 2012 with Canterbury. In 2014 Barba had a short stint with the Brisbane Broncos before making the move to the Cronulla Sharks in 2015. He last played in the NRL in 2016 in Cronulla’s 14-12 grand final win over the Melbourne Storm.
Despite having multiple options at fullback, in Valentine Holmes and Josh Dugan Cronulla are strong favorites to sign Barba. Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has on various occasions stated the club would welcome back Barba if the fullback ever made his way back to the NRL.
“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.
Barba’s potential signing with Cronulla could prompt Holmes to exit the club. Off-contract in 2019 Holmes is weighing up an offer from his home town team the North Queensland Cowboys and an extension from the Sharks.
However, before Barba can sign any contract, the NRL needs to approve his reinstatement. Barba was forced out of the NRL after Cronulla’s grand final win, recording his second positive illicit drugs strike. He was served a 12-game ban for his drugs strike.