Sailor backs All-Star Barba to rise again
FORMER dual international Wendell Sailor believes troubled star Ben Barba can use next month's Indigenous All Stars clash to re-ignite his NRL career after being cut loose by new Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett.
Barba, who has battled personal and form issues for the past two seasons, will turn out for Cronulla this year after failing to deliver for the Broncos, who have secured former Raider Anthony Milford to take over the play-making role.
The brilliant Barba has been named in coach Laurie Daley's exciting 20-man Indigenous squad for the February 13 showdown with Bennett's NRL All Stars on the Gold Coast, alongside superstars Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston.
Sailor, who played for the Indigenous All Stars in 2010, said being in camp with some of the game's biggest names, and partnering Thurston in the halves, could bring out Barba's best.
Barba was man-of-the-match in the last All Star clash in 2013 when the Indigenous side levelled the ledger at two wins each.
"I always have a talk to Benny. He enjoys the camp and hopefully we can get that Benny Barba magic back," Sailor said.
"We all make mistakes. It's about how you bounce back.
"I think about how I finished my career in 2010 ... a few years before that I wasn't liked that much.
"You have to come back and earn that respect again."
Bennett said he had deliberately picked a big pack, but conceded his rival, Daley, had him covered for flair in what was probably the best Indigenous side picked in the brief history of the clashes.
"We've got a pretty good side ourselves, but if you want to talk about flair, they're going to beat us in that department," he said.
The master coach has named Beau Scott as captain of a side which includes a blend of exciting youth in fullback Matt Moylan and centre Dylan Walker, and experienced campaigners Kieran Foran, Englishman James Graham and Brisbane's Corey Parker.
NRL All Star hooker Michael Ennis said he remembered playing in the 2012 game which he said for the first 20 minutes was as quick as any game he had played.
"When you look at the strike power in that Indigenous All Stars squad, it's going to be one hell of a contest," Ennis said.
NRL All Stars: M Moylan (Panthers),
M Vatuvei (Warriors), J Croker (Raiders), D Walker (Rabbitohs), A Winterstein (Cowboys), K Foran (Sea Eagles),
M Pearce (Roosters), J Graham (Bulldogs), M Ennis (Sharks), J Waerea- Hargreaves (Roosters), B Scott (Knights), J Taumalolo (Cowboys), P Gallen (Sharks), J Bromwich (Storm), L Brooks (Tigers), W Hopoate (Eels), T Merrin (Dragons), C Parker (Broncos), J Smith (Knights), D Taylor (Titans).
Indigenous All Stars: G Inglis (Rabbitohs), A Johnston (Rabbitohs),
W Chambers (Storm), J Hodges (Broncos), J Hoffman (Titans), B Barba (Sharks), J Thurston (Cowboys), G Rose (Dragons), R Thompson (Cowboys),
R James (Titans), T Peachey (Panthers), S Thaiday (Broncos), G Bird (Titans),
C Sandow (Eels), T Learoyd-Lahrs (Storm), D Gagai (Knights), K Turner (Rabbitohs), J Wighton (Raiders),
K Moseley (Titans), B Tighe (Titans).