At the end of 2018, after winning the Man of Steel but missing out on playing in the Grand Final or indeed the Challenge Cup Final, Ben Barba left Super League.
The fullback was a real star as St Helens dominated in 2018 but failed to guide the Saints to a major final after the club were stunned by Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves in semi-finals.
He left to return to the NRL, but this was despite a five year deal offered to him:
“St Helens offered me a five year contract to play. Then if I was slowing down at the end of my career, I could go into coaching,” he revealed to the Yeah Nice Sport Podcast.
“But I wanted to come home, come to North Queensland. I had just lost my mum’s mum.”
He did admit that St Helens understood his decision:
“They were so friendly over there [at St Helens]. When I said I wanted to go they understood.”
He also revealed that two other Super League clubs pursued him:
“They have the Magic Weekend over there up in Newcastle so I flew over.
“My manager was over there, but a couple of clubs flew me over to meet with them these were Catalans Dragons, Warrington Wolves and St Helens.”
He revealed how two legendary players were key to his decision to join the Saints in a move that would help determine the club’s future despite the fact he would not go on to win a Grand Final with the club:
“I chose St Helens in the end because, being a footy tragic, everything about it was right. There was Sean Long and Paul Wellens.
“I had watched them early on. They all worked at the club. I was there supposedly to meet clubs, my manager was over there because it is a big weekend with it being the Magic Weekend.”