No home for Ben at Cowboys
THE Cowboys have ruled out signing Ben Barba after yesterday rebuffing plans for the former Dally M medallist to finish his NRL career at North Queensland.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal five clubs — three in the NRL and two from the English Super League — have contacted Barba’s management in the past 24 hours to inquire about his price tag.
Barba is expected to formally sever ties with French rugby outfit Toulon next Monday and his preference is to resurrect his NRL career at his hometown club, the Cowboys.
Born in Mackay, Barba has family ties to north Queensland, prompting his management to contact the Cowboys to explore the prospect of an NRL lifeline.
Cowboys champion Johnathan Thurston is expected to retire at the end of next year. Barba was offered to the Cowboys as a fullback option in a scenario that would see Lachlan Coote possibly partner Michael Morgan at the scrumbase in the post-Thurston era.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was yesterday informed of Barba’s interest in joining the club, but North Queensland powerbrokers insist they cannot afford the 27-year-old.
“I’ve had an approach asking if we would be interested in signing Ben Barba,” Cowboys recruitment chief Peter Parr said. “Respectfully, we don’t have room in our salary cap.
“Ben is clearly a talented player of NRL quality, but we’ve got Lachlan Coote under contract and we can’t be happier with his form and the way he has fitted into our club.
“The Cowboys won’t be signing Ben Barba.”