Barba feared his NRL career was over
Livewire Cronulla Sharks recruit Ben Barba thought his NRL career was over when incoming Broncos coach Wayne Bennett gave him permission to talk to other clubs.
With a wife and three daughters to take care of, Barba thought he thought he would have to switch codes to support his family when no clubs were prepared to sign him initially, before the Sharks threw him a lifeline with a three-year deal.
"There was a time where I was training and I was thinking 'what am I getting myself up for?' or 'what am I training for?' so that's... when I thought about changing codes," Barba told media on Thursday.
"I asked my management to [source a rugby union contract] when no NRL clubs fronted straight away so I left it all up to them.
"With the salary cap there weren't many clubs that could fit anymore players in so that was one thing which really worried me.
"The one thing that was going through my mind was how I was going to support my family so I was happy that the Sharks understood that... and now I'm looking forward to working hard for these guys over the next three years."
Barba had cited homesickness as a driving factor to leave the Bulldogs for Brisbane at the end of 2013, but the 25-year-old said reconciling with his partner and children gave him the confidence to return to Sydney.
"Obviously at the time I followed my family because I wasn't with them. We were able to rebuild our relationship, and together my partner and I had another beautiful little girl two weeks ago, and one thing she reassured me of was that she would follow me anywhere," Barba said.
"She has my back always so that was probably the main reason I came back to Sydney, if she didn't say it I wouldn't have come back."
Barba, who has been earmarked as Todd Carney's replacement at five-eighth by coach Shane Flanagan, said he has a point to prove in 2015.
Admitting his form over the past few years "hasn't been too crash hot", Barba said playing behind a forward pack including former Bulldogs teammate Michael Ennis and New South Wales captain Paul Gallen will help him return to form.
"I'm pretty confident in my ability and what I'm capable of," Barba said.
"I didn't fit into the way [the Broncos] played their footy. Coming from what I did at the Dogs to Brisbane, they were two totally different teams but... I can see how the Sharks forward pack is similar to the one at the Bulldogs, which is big, versatile and able to offload, so I'm looking forward to playing with these guys.
"There are guys here like Paul Gallen and Michael Ennis who can hopefully bring the best out of me... and hopefully I can produce for the Sharks."