I'm not Bulldogs' saviour: Barba - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

I'm not Bulldogs' saviour: Barba

By Ian McCullough 27/06/2010 01:14:11 PM Comments (0)

Canterbury starlet Ben Barba has warned Bulldogs fans not to expect him to be the X-factor that is going to kick-start their stuttering NRL season.

The exciting 21-year-old utility, who impressed with a series of eye-catching performances off the bench earlier in the campaign, will start at five-eighth for the first time against Canberra on Monday.

The move follows Kevin Moore's controversial decision to drop the Darwin-born Barba to reserve grade for a month in a bid to improve his defence and increase his experience in the role.

The plan was not a popular one with many Bulldogs supporters who felt his exciting style was the spark their 13th-placed team were missing, but Barba said he is a better player for the experience of guiding a team around the park for 80 minutes.

"I won't lie, I wasn't ready to play 80 minutes and I am very grateful to Kev and thankful he has given me the chance to try and impress him again," Barba said.

"It was my involvement and defence that wasn't good enough and in NSW Cup I injected myself in the game more than I had in first grade and I am buzzing about getting the chance to play.

"This is also my first chance to play in our strongest side, hopefully I can come in there and give a good performance and try and cement my place in the team."

Barba's brilliant performances in the lower grades have seen him compared to Queensland superstar Johnathan Thurston, but he revealed he'd been told by Moore not to be concerned with the razzle dazzle and focus on the basics.

"I spoke to Kev early in the week and he said not to worry about being the X-factor, just worry about giving it your all," he said.

"Kev has been real good with injecting me in games when I need to be injected. But I have my chance to do it from the start now.

"I worked really hard on my defence and taking the right options when tackling in NSW Cup and I hope I can do my best on Monday for the team."

Moore said he can already see a difference in Barba in training following his successful spell with Canterbury's reserve team.

"I believe he has earned the right to return to first grade, he has a lot of natural ability and from a coaching side of things you have to have a long-term view," Moore said.

"We've just believed that Ben needed to attend to a few areas in his game and his attention to detail on the training paddock.

"He has got four 80-minute games under his belt and we have seen the benefits of that and he has been rewarded with a start this week."

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