OPINION: The Ben Barba Effect

Another Magic Weekend over and despite the obvious injury issues, we remain unbelievably only 2 points off the top 4. A win on Thursday will take Wigan into 4th place ahead of Leeds entertaining Warrington. This weekend see’s what is beginning called as the “Second Easter”, another unwelcomed double header by most clubs owing to the World Cup at the end of the year. It is a repeat of Easter for Wigan, with St Helens and Wakefield being the opponents and a repeat of Easters results would be very much welcomed.

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St Helens have this week been linked with Ben Barba, a player who new coach Justin Holbrook has openly admitted he would like to take to Saints. Barba is an incredible talent and although he may end up at St Helens, it would be a fantastic coup for Super League. However, what are the ramifications of his proposed move? Although this is currently up for debate, it is understood that his twelve week ban from NRL would stand in Super League. You would imagine Barba would be Saints first Marquee Signing, so let’s say a wage of £500,000 p.a (£41,666 p.m); St Helens would be paying £125,000 to Barba for the 12 weeks he can’t play.

Let’s say, Barba signs after the game on Thursday, meaning he would miss the remaining eight Super League rounds and half of the Super 8’s games, by which time they would have had to gain six points on fourth place to qualify for the Semi Finals. All in all, St Helens could end up paying Ben Barba, approximately £333,300 for four games in 8 months before the season starts again in February – why wouldn’t he sign! This is obviously all hypothetical and Barba’s ban could be restricted to NRL games only, meaning that he can play for Saints straight away.

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Should Barba sign, what does that mean for Lomax, England’s fullback in last year’s Four Nations? I would like to think the ramifications of St Helens signing Ben Barba is that Lomax moves to Warrington and Wigan sign Wigan-born, Stefan Ratchford (linked with a move away from Warrington by Sky Sports on Saturday)– an excellent utility player who would be an astute signing for Wigan. So if Barba signing means £333,000 for four games in eight months and a Wiganer returning to Wigan – bring it on!

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