A reunion between Ben Barba and the Cronulla Sharks may have just been taken off the table.
Shane Flanagan has come out and shut the door on the potential return of the 29-year old fullback. This comes just a day after reports came out Barba had finalised a release from his contract with St Helens. Flanagan was unsure how the club would be able to fit him into the current team with Holmes already at Fullback and the Sharks already tight with the salary cap.
“He’s a great player and he’s part of the club’s history and if we could get him back we’d get him back, but it’s not going to be possible with the salary cap and the position we’re in at the moment,” he told NRL Media.
“We’ve decided that we want to invest in Val long-term here at the club and that’s bubbling away behind the scenes and hopefully that comes off and Val will be our No.1.”
So with Cronulla currently unlikely to sign Barba, here are a few other teams that should look into signing the former Dally M medal winner.
With Billy Slater calling time on his historical career at the end of 2018, the Storm could look at Barba to fill the void.
Craig Bellamy is known for resurrecting players careers and could bring out the best in Barba. Melbourne have a very structured attack and that could provide Barba a lot of opportunities in the opposing 20 meter.
The addition of Barba could also allow Bellamy to keep his current halves together. Currently, Melbourne have two reliable options at fullback apart from Slater in Cameron Munster and youngster Jahrome Hughes. However both are currently playing well in the halves for Melbourne.
Hughes is the likely choice for the fullback role next season if Bellamy chooses not to look elsewhere for a replacement.
North Queensland Cowboys
Due to Valentine Holmes seeming like he will stay with Cronulla, the Cowboys are another team that could use Barba at fullback next season.
Reminiscent of his season in 2012 Barba would thrive running off big forwards like Jason Taumalolo and Jordan Mclean. Barba does most of his damage in the open field and is great running off offloads from his forwards.
The Cowboys could definitely use another playmaker with Thurston retiring at season’s end. If Barba was to sign with the Cowboys it would also allow Te Maire Martin, who is currently playing fullback to move back to the halves to cover the loss of Thurston.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
Fans may hate or love him but know one can question the magical season he had with the Bulldogs in 2012. Barba would lead the club to a grand final that year and win the Dally M medal. Even though Canterbury would lose the grand final against Melbourne, Barba had shown he could be a superstar in the NRL.
However, his historical season would be immediately followed by injuries and controversy, which would end in him leaving the Bulldogs just one year after his historical season.
Barba could be the ‘X factor’ for a team that constantly looks lost on attack. This doesn’t mean however that the Bulldogs have lacked in effort, just that the end of their attacking sets have ended with poor kicks or an error. If he can show some of the form he has had in the English Super League this season he can definitely be a positive addition to the club that he debuted for 10 years ago.