Ben Barba will jet home at the end of the Super League season with a suitcase full of treasured memories about his short stay at St Helens and admits they will remain in his thoughts for the rest of his life.
The 29-year-old Australian, who will play his 34th game in a Saints’ shirt against Warrington Wolves in the play-off semi-final at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday, would love to repay the club and fans for what he describes as ‘making my family feel at home from day one’ by signing off with victory in the Old Trafford Grand Final a week on Saturday.
I want to finish my time here on a high but sometimes form can go straight out of the window in sudden death football and despite having beaten Warrington three times already this year, no way will we be under-estimating them on the nightBen Barba
Barba said: “I want to finish my time here on a high but sometimes form can go straight out of the window in sudden death football and despite having beaten Warrington three times already this year, no way will we be under-estimating them on the night.”
Saints took a calculated risk last year in signing the former Dally M Medal winner when he was serving an NRL 12-match ban for a cocaine-related offence and had also had a spell with Rugby Union side Toulon.
But it proved a masterstroke by St Helens - just as their decision in resurrecting the career of Jamie Lyon did in 2005 - and Barba has already repaid his bosses by currently topping the Super League try scoring charts and helping Saints lift the League Leaders’ Shield.
Barba added: “Words can hardly describe my time here and the way the club have looked after my family. It has been unreal and an unforgettable experience.
“The lads have also been great and I’ve told them if they want to visit me any time they will be made more than welcome. I will certainly be returning to St Helens whenever the opportunity arises - not as a player but just to renew old acquaintances.”
He said playing in England had been a ‘wonderful experience’ and he fully appreciated the understanding and compassion shown by the club in allowing him to return to his native Australia.