Ben Barba: St Helens have done a lot for me

Man of Steel Ben Barba has thanked St Helens for welcoming him into the club and Justin Holbrook in particular.

The 29-year-old joined Saints midway through the 2017 season when at the time, he was serving a drugs ban.

Barba picked up the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award on Monday night after being a shining light in Super League this season, scoring 28 tries and coming up with 24 assists in 25 Super League games.

“The club has been unreal for me, to take me in with the suspension and then wait for me to play – I just can’t thank them enough,” he told loverugbyleague.com.

“And they have been outstanding again this year – not just for me but for my family as well.

“Justin has been wonderful. He allowed me to play the way I did and allowed me to enjoy my football.

“When I thought things weren’t going well for me, he really supported me and helped me get through it and a bit of credit has got to go to him.”

Barba will return to the NRL and join North Queensland Cowboys for the 2019 campaign but he admitted that he is gutted he won’t get to play alongside the retiring Johnathan Thurston next year.

“I jumped at North Queensland to be closer to my home,” he added.

“I’ve always wanted to play for them from being a kid. You can only ever dream of playing there, I watched guys like Matty Bowen and Thurston wear the shirt, now retired, but it is still pretty special for a kid in North Queensland.

“I got the chance to play with Johnathan in the for the (Indigenous) All Stars a few times but I might not have gone back if he was still there.

“He will still be there in and around the club somewhere so I’ll just to take advice off him and to work under him is pretty exciting.”

Barba has never played for Australia and even though he would jump at the opportunity to represent the Kangaroos, he admitted that he thinks the chance has passed him by.

“You never know but I’m going to be 30 next year,” he added.

“My time might have passed but all I can do is play as best as I can for North Queensland and really anything is possible.”

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