Barba to bounce back: Sharks
New Sharks five-eighth Ben Barba had a mixed night in his team's Round 1 24-20 loss at home to Canberra but his coach, teammates and the man himself insist once he gets to grips with the new role he will be able to excel at the club.
Sharks hooker Michael Ennis, who played with Barba in the latter's Dally M year at the Bulldogs in 2012, told NRL.com the livewire would learn from the tough initiation.
"I thought he was excellent in stages and other times just finding his feet in a new side," Ennis said.
"His combination with his centre and back-rower and winger will develop in time and the only way you can do that is on the park.
"I thought he looked really slick at times with the footy and the times where things broke down for us it was the combinations."
Barba's highlight reel included a great cut-out pass to put Sosaia Feki over for a try shortly after half time, but his lowlight reel was more substantial.
It included not finding touch from a penalty, a clearing kick sailed out on the full by several metres, and what was meant to be a probing bomb towards the Raiders in-goal was marked on the full by Raiders fullback Jack Wighton almost at the dead ball line.
Barba conceded that watching Wighton take a quick tap and the 20 and streak 80 metres to score on the back of his poor kick was a tough one to take.
"I was pretty hard on myself after the first half, I was pretty down on myself," Barba said after the game.
"Those are the things I'm going to have to get used to being a five-eighth. I'll work pretty hard this week on my kicking and trying to get that right. We've got a great kicking coach in Adam Dykes and I'll sit down with him and see what I did wrong and what I can fix up. I'll learn from my mistakes and hopefully improve next week."
He described the whole first half as "a bit rough and a bit rushed."
"If we stick to our game plan and our big fellas take us forward we're a good football team. It's disappointing that we didn't win tonight but it's only the first round."
Barba believes he can get back to his best at Cronulla, while also conceding he is still growing into the five-eighth role.
"I think I'm capable of playing that position, I played a bit there before I moved to fullback at the Dogs and a bit last year," he said.
He also got a mixed report card from his coach after the game.
"I think he'll have better [game] for the club that's for sure," Shane Flanagan said.
"He got off to a bad start. He passed for [Feki's] try too, he'll be better for the run."