Ben Barba

Ben Barba may have strengthened his claims even further for the vacant QLD fullback position with a five-start performance, but that was the last thing on his mind – as it was his family that were in it, as they all congratulated him, after a successful return to Mackay.

With the Bulldogs moving a home game to the area that Barba grew up in, he left the task of getting family members to the ground up to his mother, and admits that nerves creeped up on him pre-game.

“I was a bit nervous before the game. Playing in front of family and friends I grew up with, I was always going to be,” Barba said.

“I am still in shock. It is a dream come true to come here but it another thing to beat a side like Melbourne in front of family and friends.

“There are more family inside the sheds than teammates.”

Whilst Barba said that he would monitor his phone for any call he may receive from QLD HQ, he heaped a ton of praise towards his mother, who helped get Barba’s family members to the game, and taking care of all of the off-field responsibilities.

“I gave all the tickets I could possibly get to mum. I said to everyone ‘deal with her and I will talk to you after the game’,” Barba laughed.

“I am lucky I have an organised mum – everyone was happy.”

Barba hopes that a selection is not too far away for him, and will wait and see what happens – with the livewire Dogs fullback knowing the competition for the spot is fierce.

“I have put my hand up now. But there are some great fullbacks to choose from so I will just hope for the best,” he said.

With some reports suggesting that Slater may have been passed fit to play in the Origin clash, Storm coach Craig Bellamy ruled out that that would be the case.

“All our medical opinion says he wouldn’t be ready, hopefully common sense prevails,” he said.

Storm captain Cameron Smith said that Ben Barba has put himself in that mold of the game’s best fullbacks.

“Look at a guy like Billy Slater, he had a few errors in him early on but now he’s the best fullback in the game – Benny (Barba) has put himself in that category now,” Smith said.

“He’d be able to handle the occasion if he is given opportunity.”

Dogs coach Des Hasler agreed with Smith’s sentiments, but knows that Barba faces stiff competition for the spot.

“He has the ability to break tackles, to come up with that play when you need it.

“His name is obviously up there but Queensland are in the fortunate position that they can choose between Matt Bowen, Barba, Greg Inglis and Darius Boyd – they are pretty well covered in that area.”

By ricky

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