Barba ready to rock the 'Gong
If you're a Dragons fan you'd better batten down the hatches and hold on tight to something sturdy – there's an earthquake heading to Wollongong on Friday night.
Ben Barba may have new-found stability off the field, but his Bronco teammates and rugby league fans are still waiting for Brisbane's new fullback to rock their foundations on the field with the brand of scintillating football he has produced in the past for the Bulldogs.
Barba's career to date is as close as you'll get to a rugby league earthquake – a steady rumble to begin with between 2008 and 2010, followed by violent shaking brought on by his ground-rupturing years of 2011 and 2012, and then an almost unnatural and eerie silence in the 2013 season.
Now happy and enjoying his football in Brisbane, Bronco fans are hoping for a series of aftershocks from Barba that can shift the fault line that is the Telstra Premiership north of the border, in order to deliver the Broncos a seventh premiership in the coming seasons.
We all know Barba's destructive rugby league potential measures 10 on the Richter scale, as do his teammates. That's why they are waiting, hoping and wishing for the 2012 Dally M medallist to return to his destructive best.
"I think some of my teammates are waiting for that too. Hopefully it comes out this Friday [against the Dragons]," Barba said.
The beginning of the 2014 season has been somewhat foreign to Barba, with the 24-year-old requiring ankle surgery last year just prior to his arrival in Brisbane. The recovery process caused Barba to miss all three trial matches for the Broncos, as he aggravated his ankle again during the Auckland Nines tournament.
Now with three NRL games firmly behind him, the Norths Mackay junior is starting to find his feet at the Broncos and his attacking combination with halves Ben Hunt and Josh Hoffman is starting to reverberate around Red Hill.
"It was the first game last week where I actually felt really comfortable and felt good, so hopefully I can take last week into this week," he said.
"It's a new team and new teammates. I didn't get to play in any trials, hopefully over the last three weeks I've learnt something off 'Hoffy' (Hoffman) and Benny (Hunt) and everyone else in the side and we can move on from here.
"I think it's gone pretty well in the first few weeks. No one expected us to gel so well in the first game and it's continuing to grow.
"Hopefully as the weeks go on and we get better that combination will start to come off."
After scoring two tries in the Auckland Nines, the 100-game veteran will be looking to open his Broncos account in the NRL against the Dragons. Typically a prolific try-scorer with 23 tries from 24 appearances in 2011 and 22 tries out of 27 in 2012, the Darwin-born fullback last crossed for a four-pointer in Round 20 last year.
All signs are present that Barba will start peeling off the match-winning performances the NRL is accustomed to, a steady and settled personal life at his new Brisbane base can be attributed to that.
"It was hard after being at Canterbury for so long, the only thing I knew was Canterbury," he said.
"Coming up here was a big change and it took a whole pre-season really to get to know everyone's names off by heart.
"I've got some great teammates at the Broncs and some great leaders [around me] so they make it easy.
"It's been really enjoyable and I'm looking forward to my footy each week which is good."
If there is pressure on Barba to deliver some earth-shattering form he's not showing it, even though he's fully aware that the burden to produce for the Broncos will always linger.
"(Pressure) is something I put on myself. I know the first few weeks I was a bit quiet in what I was doing but I am trying to get involved in it a bit more," he said.
"Hopefully I continue to grow in confidence and start to play some good football."