SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27: Ben Barba of the Sharks acknowledges the crowd after the round 25 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Sydney Roosters at Shark Park on August 27, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

2012 Dally M medallist Ben Barba is set to make his return to the rugby league field for the 2024 season after being lured by the Sarina Crocodiles.

The Sarina Crocodiles compete in Queensland in the Mackay District and recently announced the signing of Kane Linnett as their captain and coach.

In what has been regarded as the biggest signing coup of the Rugby League Mackay and District competition, News Corp has reported that the Crocodiles have signed former star fullback Ben Barba.

His reported arrival comes after he recently won the Koori Knockout with Walgett Aboriginal Connection alongside South Sydney Rabbitohs duo Jack Wighton and Isaiah Tass.

During his time at the Canterbury Bulldogs (2008-13) in the NRL, Barba was recognised as one of the premium elite players of the competition and would be honoured with the Dally M medal in just his fifth season.

Barba would then have stints with the Brisbane Broncos (2014) and Cronulla Sharks (2015-16) but struggled to reclaim his Dally M talents.

A member of the Sharks maiden NRL premiership title, he was banned by the NRL following a positive test for cocaine in 2016 before moving to French rugby outfit Toulon.

The 31-year-old returned down under with the North Queensland Cowboys in 2019 but was cut from the club before playing a game. The fullback's history also includes a stint with Super League side St Helens in 2018, where he won the Man of Steel Award as the competition's best player.

“I think just coming back home to be closer to family again really,” said Sarina president Shannon Cleary on why Barba chose the team via News Corp.

“I know he had other offers down south, but it would've involved him being away from the kids again.”

Since they were established, the Sarina Crocodiles have won seven A-grade premierships and ten reserve-grade premierships. Most recently, they are coming off a preliminary-final loss to the Mackay Brothers in the 2023 season.

Ben Barba of the Sharks celebrates winnin the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys at Allianz Stadium on September 23, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)