St Helens’ marquee signing Ben Barba says he is ready to jostle with England international Jonny Lomax for the Saints full-back shirt.

The 28-year-old Barba will make his eagerly-anticipated Betfred Super League debut in the crucial derby with Wigan on Friday week after serving a 12-match ban and has already been informed of his role by coach Justin Holbrook.

“I’m not too sure if he’s given it away yet so I don’t think I can,” Barba told reporters during a break in the club’s junior members’ day. “Wherever he puts me, I’ll hopefully do a job for the team.”
Ben Barba
Although Barba started out his career as a stand-off with Canterbury Bulldogs in 2008, his career took off following a switch to full-back and he won the Dally M Award as the NRL player of the year after helping his club reach the 2012 Grand Final.

“That’s where I’ve had all my success in the past,” he said. “Jonny Lomax has obviously played for his country and done a job here for quite a long time. I’m sure if I’m there or he’s there, we’ll work pretty well together.

“It’s a good headache for the coach to have. It only makes the guys work a bit harder. We’re pushing each other each week to try and get better.”

Barba, who turned down Warrington after being released early from his contract with French rugby union club Toulon, was forced to sit out the first seven matches for his new club after they failed in a bid to overturn the suspension imposed by the NRL and admits he has had time for a period of reflection.

“I’ve had a lot of down time, a lot of thinking about the mistakes I’ve made,” he said. “You play it through your head what might have been if things hadn’t have happened.

“But I’ve got four little girls that keep me on my toes, it’s my family that have probably kept me sane this last 10 months.

“The last few weeks have been tough but I’ve been working pretty hard on the field to get myself ready.

“After going to union, I lost a bit of fitness.”

Barba was a tryscorer in Cronulla’s 14-12 victory over Melbourne in the NRL Grand Final last October but a month later was released by the club after failing a drugs test.

A cross-code move to Toulon failed to work out but Barba has settled so quickly into his new surroundings that he is already thinking about staying on beyond the end of his two-and-a-half-year contract.

“I’ll finish my contract here when I’m 30 and I’ve said it to the guys that, if I’m enjoying it, there’ll definitely be no rush to get back,” Barba added.

“I just want to get hopefully six games out of the way, get a full season next year and a full season after that and really put some good performances in and hopefully win some trophies for St Helens.

“It just felt right to come here and they’ve really embraced me.

“I didn’t know what to expect, especially after coming off the suspension, whether people would accept it but it’s been really positive since I’ve been here and hopefully I can put a few smiles on the kids’ faces in a couple of weeks.”