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The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have taken a major step forward with fullback Ben Barba becoming the first player at the Club to sign through to the 2015 NRL season.

Currently the NRL’s leading try scorer with 14 tries so far in 2011, Barba has made a long term commitment to the Blue and White in signing an upgraded contract for 2012 and a new deal stretching over seasons 2013-15.

The re-signing was announced this afternoon at the Bulldogs second annual SMS Luncheon at Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf.

“First things first, we are over the moon that Ben has committed to the Bulldogs long term,” Bulldogs Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg says.

“He’s simply an outstanding talent and every NRL fan would acknowledge what he has meant to our team both in terms of the 2011 season and in the years since his debut.

“In addition to his football and pure athletic ability, he’s an excitement machine. People want to watch him in full flight, which is great for our team and for us as a Club.

“It’s also fitting that we were able to announce that Ben would be with us through to at least 2015 at our SMS Lunch as the event is all about recognising the good things that our players do for community causes.

“Ben is a real role model and for someone so young he has shown great maturity in recent times. He’s a father of two, is deeply committed to his family and also to his indigenous culture. We certainly look to him as a leader both on and off the field in the years to come.”

22 year old Barba debuted in the NRL for the Bulldogs late in the 2008 season and to date has played 46 top grade matches for the Club.

In addition to topping the competition’s try scoring tally so far in 2011, he finished 2010 as the Club’s highest try scorer with 15 in 21 matches.

Taking the reins at fullback for the Club this season, Barba’s talent was recognised by his being named in a star-studded 25-man Queensland State of Origin Squad back in April.

“I’m very excited to confirm that I will be at the Bulldogs long term,” Barba says.

“It’s a pretty big step for myself and my family. The Club has treated me well ever since I got here and I wanted to stay a Bulldog and build a career here.

“I’ve always wanted to be a leader at the Bulldogs and signing until 2015 will see me mature as a player and as a person.

“Being so young there is always room to improve and I just want to continue to learn over these next few years and ultimately keep getting better whilst playing some good football for the Club.”

Barba will line up at fullback for the Bulldogs in Friday’s Bandaged Bear Cup clash against the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium.