EX-North Queensland star Tim Brasher has tipped Ben Barba to not only gain NRL redemption in 2019 but also wear the Cowboys No.1 jersey for years to come.
Former Dally M Medallist Barba will officially launch his NRL comeback with his first pre-season session in Townsville on Monday after the Cowboys threw the livewire fullback a 2019 lifeline.
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Barba, 29, is preparing to return to the NRL for the first time since copping a 12-game ban for testing positive to cocaine following Cronulla’s 2016 premiership win.
All eyes will be on Barba when he plays for his NRL future on a one-year Cowboys deal in 2019 after securing a release from UK Super League club St Helens.
Brasher had no doubt Barba’s NRL homecoming would be a success, saying the flyer was just what the Cowboys needed as they began life in 2019 without their retired co-captain Johnathan Thurston.
Pre-season title favourites North Queensland are still smarting from finishing 13th in 2018 with just eight wins in Thurston’s swansong season.
“Barba will be out for a bit of redemption and I think he will get it,” Brasher told AAP.
“He’s only 29, in the prime of his life. If he is fit and healthy and got his head screwed on he will be a great acquisition.”
Brasher believed the ex-Sharks matchwinner would nail down the Cowboys No.1 jersey for up to five years, forming a dangerous combination with new-look halves Michael Morgan and Jake Clifford.
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Former NSW and Test speedster Brasher said the stage was now set for Barba to finish his NRL career “the right way” at North Queensland after his Cronulla controversy.
“Every club he has played at, if he is going great the club has done well – Benny is certainly someone who can help turn the Cowboys around,” he said.
“And a one-year contract is a good way of doing it, it makes him perform.
“It’s up to him if he gets an extension on his contract.
‘From what I have heard he is really switched on and wants to come back and finish the right way.
“He’s probably got four or five years at his best where he can do that and what better way to do it than lead a team off the bottom of the ladder.”
Originally published as Barba is the No.1 Cowboy long-term, says former gun
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