Barba set to shine on grand final day
Sharks star Ben Barba has urged NRL clubs to take another look at his little brother Marmin when the try-scoring phenomenon runs out for the Ipswich Jets in the State Championship on Sunday, the main curtain-raiser to the 2015 Telstra Premiership Grand Final.
The younger of the Barba boys scored his 30th try of the season and set up another in Ipswich's thrilling 32-20 win over the Townsville Blackhawks in last Sunday's Intrust Super Cup Grand Final that set up a showdown for state pride against Newcastle, VB NSW Cup champions for 2015.
While the Knights boast eight players with NRL experience the Jets have just the one, former Maroons winger Chris Walker who has been named on an extended bench in what will likely be his final appearance in top-level rugby league.
Hooker Matt Parcell (Manly) and fullback Carlin Anderson (Brisbane) have been signed to NRL contracts for 2016 and beyond but Barba remains unattached having had previous stints with the Eels and Broncos.
The 24-year-old father of two has scored 52 tries for Ipswich over the past two seasons – older brother Aaron scored 33 in a season for Redcliffe in 2003 – and sparked the Jets' first try for Dane Phillips with an 80-metre run from his own end.
Proud brother Ben was watching from the sidelines at Suncorp Stadium and said Marmin had deserved to be given an opportunity by an NRL club.
"Definitely, I'd like to see him get a chance," Barba told NRL.com.
"Hopefully it goes to show out there how he can play and the wheels he's got, that someone is out there who wants to pick him up and give him a fair shot.
"I got nervous there towards the end but I'm so proud of him. After what he's been through with his cancer and all that, to see him happy and smiling at the end made me really happy.
"He loves this side out at Ipswich. Every time I talk to him he talks so highly about the Walker boys (Ipswich coaches Ben and Shane Walker) and how they play their football and it's just so pleasing to see them win."
While Ben suggested the Newcastle team do some video sessions this week – "They've probably never seen a team play like they did today" – Marmin said the unconventional style of the Walker brothers has brought out the best in his naturally attacking style of football.
It's a long way removed from the NRL structures he would have experienced at Parramatta and then Brisbane but Marmin said it was a style of playing that he quickly embraced.
"I was all for it. When they explained how they play it really suited me," Marmin said immediately after Ipswich's maiden Intrust Super Cup title.
"It took me a few weeks to get used to it but I enjoy playing beneath Ben and Shane. It's the best choice I've ever made coming over to the Jets.
"I really enjoyed my year and to win a grand final is unreal.
"A lot of people doubted our style of play but us boys kept doing it and believed it would work and we came up with a grand final win."
The Northern Pride showed with their win in the inaugural State Championship match over Penrith last year that NRL experience counts for little on grand final day and Marmin is unfazed by the 400 games of first grade the Jets will have to overcome to make it two-from-two for the Queensland champions.
"It's just the trust that we have in each other. We're all brothers and we all believe in each other and what we can do on the field," Barba said.
"It doesn't matter who you've got in your team or how many NRL games you've played it's just who comes out on the day and plays their best and who believes in their teammates.
"To win an Intrust Super Cup Grand Final is up there as one of the best things that's ever happened to me. It's my first one so it's definitely up there.
"It's going to mean so much. To play before an NRL Grand Final is just going to be unreal and I can't wait."