Saints beat off the challenge of Super League neighbours Warrington Wolves to snap up Australian full back Ben Barba on a two-and-a-half year deal.
Barba had just parted company with French RU club Toulon when St Helens swooped in May, taking a calculated gamble on the former Cronulla Sharks ace who at the time was serving an NRL 12-match suspension for a cocaine-related offence and unable to pull on the famous Red Vee shirt until the club’s mouth-watering Super 8s clash against Wigan Warriors on September 1.
He said: “I spoke to other clubs and also talked to former star James Graham but at the end of the day it came down to signing for Saints, or the Wolves.
“It was a difficult decision but it just felt right coming here. I couldn’t tell you why but it made me feel warm inside.
“I was also persuaded by the support everyone gave me, including the senior players and the younger ones, and I’m the relishing the challenge in front of me.”
He follows in the footsteps of other Aussie greats, including Mal Meninga and Jamie Lyon, who set the old Knowsley Road stadium alight in years gone by.
“I know what Jamie achieved at the club but to be honest I didn’t know Mal had been a player here until I saw his picture on the wall,” admitted Barba who was part of the Sharks team which lifted the NRL Grand Final last year - and no doubt he will be wanting to achieve its equivalent at St Helens.
He added: “I just hope I can be just as successful as my two fellow Aussies were at the club and repay Saints by bringing trophies to the Totally Wicked Stadium.”