Barba gives Bulldogs a new look - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Barba gives Bulldogs a new look

Steve Jancetic 26/03/2011 04:05:14 PM Comments (0)

While reunited halves Trent Hodkinson and Kris Keating hog the spoils following Canterbury's strong start to the NRL season, another Bulldogs playmaker is happy to slip under the radar.

Diminutive fullback Ben Barba has quietly set about the task of making the blue and white No.1 jumper his own, the 21-year-old content to be out of the spotlight that had followed his stop-start NRL career.

A point-scoring whiz in the lower grades, Barba has never quite transferred his electrifying skills to the NRL as doubts mounted over his ability to become a top grade half.

Four NRL games in 2008 were followed by another four in 2009, before the Darwin-born flyer became coach Kevin Moore's shock weapon off the bench with 21 appearances in 2010.

It was also determined last year that Barba was to be groomed as Luke Patten's successor at fullback, no mean feat considering Patten had been one of Canterbury's most consistent performers during a ten-year reign in the No.1.

But as his apprenticeship continues in Sunday's clash against the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium, Barba has already stamped his own imprint on the fullback role - with his ability to chime into the attack adding potency to an already dangerous backline.

"He's got a long way to go to be in the same ballpark as General (Patten) given he did something special over a long period of time for the club, but he certainly offers that little bit of different style of football," Moore told AAP.

"He has the ability to link in out the back with his support but also he can jump in and play a bit of a seven or six role for you.

"As long as he keeps developing and he keeps working hard at his game, I think he can add something to us there."

But it hasn't been a seamless transition to the custodian's role for Barba, who admits he has had to temper his natural instinct to get his hands on the ball.

"One of the things I worked really hard on over the off-season was knowing when to inject myself and knowing where to be," Barba said.

"It's a work in progress, hopefully I can keep getting better.

"I'd like to think I can (help out with the playmaking) ... I'll gladly put my hand up and do that coming in from the back."

Helping his adjustment has been plenty of video analysis as he picks up little tips from some of the game's best in the position.

"I try and watch a fair few games on the weekend when I'm not playing - the Friday and Saturday night clashes," Barba said.

"I've sat down a few times by myself and watched guys like Preston (Campbell) and Matty Bowen and Billy Slater -they're some of the best fullbacks in the game and they've been doing it for some time now."

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